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Forecasters recall historic blizzard that blasted New England on April 6, 1982

The front page of the Boston Globe on Wednesday, April 7.
The front page of the Boston Globe on Wednesday, April 7.

When the historic April blizzard of 1982 hit New England 36 years ago, 13-year-old Thomas Young was working his second day on the job as a paper delivery boy in Hull.

He wanted to embrace his new responsibilities, so he braved the cold to hand out newspapers — only to quickly collapse from the frigid temperatures in a snowbank.

Young was found two hours later with signs of hypothermia by a passing firefighter, who rushed him to the fire station. He was treated and sent home with his parents later that day.

Young wasn’t the only one to get stuck in the 1982 snowstorm, a blizzard that dumped more than a foot of snow on most of southern New England on April 6 and 7, including 13.3 inches in Boston, the National Weather Service said in a tweet. Plainfield saw two feet of snow, Worcester got 15 inches, Blue Hill in Milton got 14 inches, and Hartford, Conn., got 14.1 inches, NWS tweeted.

“This single snowstorm put April 1982 as one of the top five snowiest Aprils on record for the four major climate sites in southern New England, as well as the long term climate site at the Blue Hill Observatory in Milton,” NWS tweeted.

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The storm also brought lightning and thunder to parts of Massachusetts, whipped 20-to-30-foot waves in Cape Cod, prompted thousands of power outages, and shut down Logan International Airport, according to Globe archives.

During the morning rush hour traffic, hundreds of cars skidded into multi-vehicle accidents, including a 50-car pileup in Marlborough, a 35-car crash in Lexington, and a 20-car collision on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton, Globe reports said.

At least 19 people were injured in traffic-related accidents, but State Police said the roads were fairly clear by late afternoon, according to Globe archives.

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Officials also reported at least eight storm-related deaths across New England — four in Massachusetts caused by heart attacks, and four in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

Don McCasland, the program director at Blue Hills Observatory, said the region faced wind chills between minus-31 and minus-33 degrees, and saw record-breaking low temperatures — a maximum of 28 degrees and a minimum of 16 degrees.

“It was unseasonably cold, very, very windy, and the wind chill was really, really low,” McCasland said.

In Milton, near the observatory, the average wind speed was 26 miles per hour with highs of 68 miles per hour, he said.

In comparison, this weekend’s storm seems tame, McCasland said.

“The storm we’re expecting today and tomorrow both are smaller systems by a long stretch, and also tracking farther east and south,” he said. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to get much impact at all.”

If the region does see snow, it’ll just be a trace, and it’s not going to be too windy, McCasland said. The Cape Cod region is more likely to see significant impact, but it’s nothing to be too concerned about, he said.

“We’re not going to see anything like the storm in 1982,” McCasland said.

See the Globe front page from Wednesday, April 7:


Elise Takahama can be reached at elise.takahama@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @elisetakahama.