Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby BandA » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:41 pm

I think many folks will be spooked by the forecasts (probably rightly so) and stay home Friday, so then there will be the weekend to recover. '78 involved hurricane force winds and astronomical high tides and a coastal storm surge, which likely won't materialize this time. But it will be interesting.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:44 pm

There's actually two high tides they're worried about. One is Friday night with a northeast wind and the one after is Saturday morning with a northwest wind.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby dieciduej » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:13 am

This is almost a carbon copy of the Blizzard of '78, snow, wind, high tides and the possibility of it slowing and stalling which will put us into the higher bands of snow. Big difference the media and people have changed. I would guess that we will hear a lot of school closing before tomorrow morning, state's of emergency being called, stay off the roads and so on. I figure the MBTA will put there snow plan into effect, reduced service on the commuter rail side, maybe more frequent service on the rapid transit side to keep the rails open. The Mattapan line will be snowbound and light rail will have issues. But hopefully everyone will be safe.

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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby tvachon » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:16 am

Yes, it's very close to it, but we also have gone from the weather fax system to massive super computers, which certainly helps make the media less sensational. Granted I only trust NOAA who isn't in it to get their viewership up.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:31 am

tvachon wrote:Yes, it's very close to it, but we also have gone from the weather fax system to massive super computers, which certainly helps make the media less sensational. Granted I only trust NOAA who isn't in it to get their viewership up.


I agree there. But government agencies like NOAA aren't always right either.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby jaymac » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:17 am

My recollection of post-Blizzard events may be a bit spotty, but I have memories of aftermath stories about the NYCTA using 1000hp diesel switchers to get some elevated trains broken free, and then the local non-transit-pros -- political and media, alike -- had a short-term clamoring for the T get similarly equipped. Calmer heads prevailed.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby Clean Cab » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:37 am

How ironic that 35 years (and a couple of days) after this historic storm, we may get another horrific blizzard that has the potential to bury the MBTA again.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby 130MM » Thu Feb 07, 2013 8:53 am

My father was an engineer for the B&M, and after the storm when the Govenor banned driving, he set out to walk from Stoneham to Woburn Center to report for duty. Fortunately, a canteen truck took pity on him and gave him a ride the rest of the way. Later that day, he was running a train from Lowell to Boston. By the time they got to Wilmington the train was full including aisles and vestibules.They were ordered to highball Winchester and Wedgemere. He came over the rise at Winchester High School, and saw the entire platform at Winchester, from end to end, full of people. Needless to say, they were not happy to see him go sailing through the station. Many single digits as well as snowballs came flying into the air.

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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby TomNelligan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:03 am

Back in 1978, the B&M supplied a number of GP7s and GP9s to haul the Budd Cars after the storm
It actually became mostly a permanent arrangement, as the Budds were no longer able to haul
themselves. The MBTA does not have too many spare locos. If the storm is real bad, would
PAR provide some GP40s for a few days to haul MBTA trains, providing there was an MBTA
unit providing HEP, even if it is not up to hauling the train? PAR has "rescued" a few
Downeasters over the years, but that was in a short notice emergency situation. Maybe.
P&W would pony up a couple of locos.


There are really two different issues here, regular MBTA/B&M operations in 1978 and beyond and the emergency operations following huge snowstorms.

The MBTA had actually started using B&M Geeps to haul aging and under-maintained RDCs on a limited basis prior to the Blizzard of 78. I believe there were two North Side sets prior to 2/78, one on the Lowell line and the other (I think) on the Rockport line, with a GP7 on each end of a string of ailing Budds. An engine was used at each end since unlike current push/pull sets they initially couldn't be controlled from the opposite end. Following the blizzard, and in large part because of widespread damage to the under-floor engines of the RDCs, GP7-hauled RDC sets became routine for several years. These, unlike the pre-blizzard sets, were trainlined so that only one Geep was necessary and it could be controlled from the RDC cab at the other end when in push mode. A gentleman from the B&M came up with the necessary control hardware. The RDCs used on these trains needed only one working engine to power lights and heat (all but the RDC9s had two), so that permitted cars with a dead engine to remain in service and indeed engine transplants left some of them with only a single engine in place.

In the immediate aftermath of the blizzard, a second issue was that lightweight RDCs would tend to derail when they hit snow-packed grade crossings, so locomotives were used at each end until the tracks were clear. Historically, both the B&M and the New Haven sometimes piloted RDCs with locomotives in heavy snow. That emergency operation in 2/78 (which used GP9s as well as the GP7s that would be permanently assigned to commuter service) ended within a week or so. I suppose that these days that could potentially apply to cab control cars as well, but of all the US and Canadian commuter operations in snow territory I am unaware of any that have a practice of attaching locomotives ahead of push/pull cab cars in heavy snow. (Amtrak had a different policy with the ex-Metroliner cab cars on the Vermonter, though.)
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby jbvb » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:55 am

The B&M's RDCs would have performed better in the storm if the MBTA had not removed the enclosures from the under-floor diesels during the summer and fall of 1977.

When the storm started to let up around midnight, my roommate went out to take pictures. There were derailed plows on both the B and C lines. The line of PCCs on Comm. Ave. backed up behind a broken down train. Power was still on, all the cars are lit in his slides. The next day, they got a shuttle of LRVs going back and forth in the Green Line tunnel. I heard a radio announcement that the T needed shovelers at South Station, so I rode the shuttle down there and earned a few bucks. South Station was still using huge piles of individual kerosene lamps to keep the switches from freezing; we were picking them up and stacking them.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby MBTA1016 » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:10 pm

Good luck getting around if u have to be out during the day tomorrow and tomorrow night. It's odd to see towns next to walpole get out early while others haven't even cancelled yet. Walpole is closed, while westwood is on an early release plan.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby edbear » Thu Feb 07, 2013 5:49 pm

I was employed in the B & M General Office at 150 Causeway St., next to North Station in 1978. I lived on the far north side of Framingham and drove over to Kendal Green and commuted into Boston that way. Although it had snowed all day, it was only 5 or 6 in. deep at the close of work. I used Train #627, depart North Station 5:33 pm, two RDCs. Conditions must have worsened because service on all lines out of North Station was suspended about 6 pm. A woman from work attended the Ice Follies in the Garden that night and she said the midnight trains all ran, each preceded by a snowplow outfit. She made it to Rockport before dawn.
There were two big storms in February, 1969 and the B & M had Jordan Spreader out on the Fitchburg late one afternoon, the only time I ever saw one on the road.
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby wicked » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:39 pm

Ice Follies weren't at the Garden that night, it was the first night of the Beanpot. And a lot of people got stuck in there for a couple days.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/articl ... ?page=full
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Re: Blizzard of '78 and the mbta.

Postby StevieC48 » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:46 am

I lived on Avalon St Revere MA and I was 7 years old and where I lived was across the street from the blue line at the time. There was many feet of snow on the ROW of the Blue line. My dad didn't want me to stay ther and we went to my grandmothers at Lechemere. we had to walk from Revere Beach to Airport Sta where limited service on the RTL and LR lines. When I returned back the ROW still wasn't cleared still so one afternoon I saw 0501 with the snow auger work clearing the snow out of the way with little issue. It was the only time I saw it run in service. After the blizzard of 78 the train and auger was stored in service and in the mid 80's was scrapped along with a huge plow mounted on a flat car. now a day they have plows mounted to the trucks and run snow trains back and fourth all night long and the green line have led sleds,
Farewell old friend thanks for the memories.
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