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Historic winters have delighted, frustrated and imperiled

As this winter surpasses the record for all-time snowfall, the Boston area has already endured one of the most difficult seasons in recorded history.

The Globe has been tracking storms and their fallout for many years, often on the front page. Sometimes, blizzards seem to magically transform the landscape into a playground where nobody has to work. Others are natural disasters that paralyze the region and imperil lives.

Often, they’re simply a pain.

For some perspective on what we’ve been through, here’s a look at coverage through the 10 snowiest seasons.

2014-2015: 108.6 inches

Congratulations, Boston: We broke the record, but this year has been one of the most challenging winters of all time. A month-long series of major storms crippled the public transit system, narrowed roads, and slowed down nearly everything in the metropolitan area.


1995-1996: 107.6 inches

It had been a long winter by the time Boston set its record, and the Globe reported about the character of those who had kept the region safe.

“The evidence is manifest, from the heroic struggle of the ice-covered Boston firefighter who risks life and limb to save the burning home of an immigrant family to the simple, yet kind gesture of a suburban homeowner who shovels his neighbor’s walk.”

1993-1994: 96.3 inches

In 1994, the Globe was with the National Weather Service when they confirmed that the season had exceeded all others to date.

“In an age of super Doppler weather radar and swirling multicolored weather graphics, one of the most significant Boston weather records this century was officially recorded just before dawn yesterday by two guys measuring snowfall on a wooden bench at Logan Airport with a ruler.”

1947-1948: 89.2 inches

In 1948, the response to the record was more circumspect, as coverage focused on the fallout from the latest storm.

“One of the Winter’s worst snowstorms — 29th of the season — swept over New England yesterday and last night, snarling traffic on virtually all highways and carrying the total snowfall figure in Boston well over the previous high,” the Globe reported.


The front page also had an ad for Hood’s Maplenut Ice Cream, which promised “real Spring flavor.”

2004-2005: 86.6 inches

It was a big season, but ‘04-’05 never held the overall record. It did have a one-month snowfall landmark, though, and the Globe was there to commemorate it.

Globe reporters noted that the recent weeks had “left everyone from public-works crews to shop owners and motorists frazzled and fatigued.”

1977-1978: 85.1 inches

1978 featured one of the most violent storms of all time, and the morning Globe took stock of the landscape.

“A savage blizzard left southern New England a desolate wasteland this morning after a two-day pounding that paralyzed the area and dumped as much as 4 feet of snow,” the newspaper reported Feb. 8.

1992-1993: 83.9 inches

1993 featured some severe winter blasts, including a storm that dropped 12.8 inches. At the time it was Boston’s biggest in a decade. The March storm killed a total of 107 people from Canada to Cuba, but left Massachusetts with less damage than expected.

The Globe took in the scene as the region cleaned up.

“All across New England yesterday, the novelty and anxiety of Saturday’s blizzard gave way to the backbreaking chore of cleaning up.”

2010-2011: 81.0 inches

In 2011, as the region braced for a February storm, the Globe’s front page used an infographic to show how much snow was expected to fall. At 21 inches, it was nearly the height of the newspaper.


1915-1916: 79.2 inches

Alongside news from the battlegrounds of World War I, the 1916 Valentine’s Day edition of The Globe recounted the snowfall from an historic, three-day storm that left the city under 24 fresh inches. It was, thankfully, a mild storm, which caused “no disaster and very little damage.”

1919-1920: 73.4 inches

The Globe was full of snow news after a 1920 storm. Three prisoners escaped through a Navy Yard coal chute during the severe weather, and the paper even ran a list of people who had been hurt.

Joseph Redmonsky, 27, of Dorchester, walked into a open hatch on a steamship docked in Charlestown, for instance. At press time, he was on the “danger list” at Relief Hospital.

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.