The same year that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first ice cream parlor and "Laverne and Shirley" became the nation's most popular television show, two massive blizzards blanketed the U.S. While one immobilized the central part of the U.S., another hit the New England region. This deadly snowstorm, known as the Northeast United States Blizzard of 1978, was ushered in by a feisty nor'easter on Feb. 5, 1978. It lasted two days and caused more than $529 million in damage, a sum that would equal more than $1.85 billion today.
Perhaps the most lingering impact of the storm, however, was the number of people injured or killed. More than 4,500 people hurt and another 100 people killed during the whiteout, many of them falling victim to freezing temperatures and treacherous road conditions that left motorists stranded -- even on major routes. In Massachusetts, for example, 3,500 cars and trucks were rendered motionless along Route 128. Before long, drifting snow covered the vehicles completely, as well as landmarks, homes and businesses. Some stranded commuters froze to death, either awaiting rescue or traveling by foot.
The U.S. National Guard was mobilized to clear the roads of snow, but was stymied by the many vehicles -- totaling more than 10,000 throughout New England -- that were buried under the frozen precipitation [source: Strauss].