With Monday’s Snowfall, Boston Breaks Its Record for Snowiest Week

January 1996: Deborah Ratner attempts to sweep snow off her Saab.
January 1996: Deborah Ratner attempts to sweep snow off her Saab. –The Boston Globe

Until last week’s blizzard effectively shut down the city of Boston, this winter was shaping up to be a light one, snow-wise. Over the past seven days, however, the Hub has been clobbered with the white fluffy stuff.

Historically clobbered.

According to the National Weather Service, as of 1 p.m. on February 2, Boston set a new record for the snowiest 7-day period, at 34.2 inches.

The previous record, for the 7-day stretch ending January 8, 1996, was 31.2 inches.

According to the city’s website, Boston receives an average of 40.9 inches of snow per year. We’re close, and, according to a certain rodent, there’s still six weeks of winter left.


While the weather has all but dominated headlines in the region lately, that snowy week of nearly 20 years ago came with plenty of its own drama, according to The Boston Globe reports from the time.

Buying milk, eggs, and bread in preparation for another storm in January 1996. —The Boston Globe

Among the offenses:

Beacon Management Co., a real estate management company, was fined $1,000 for dumping snow into Boston Harbor, in violation of state law. As we know, dumping snow in the harbor is a big no-no. We have “snow farms’’ for that now.

City councilors criticized Mayor Menino’s administration for not properly notifying citizens that their cars were going to be towed as the city plowed the streets. The city issued about 5,200 tickets in just a few days, 4,500 of them during snow emergencies.

Saving spots in January 1996. —The Boston Globe

And, of course, space-saver disputes raged. The Globe reported:

So absorbed are some of them that when people try to move into ‘claimed’ spots, they slash the tires, break the windshield wipers and scratch the paint of alien cars. In extreme cases, they break windows and fill the inside of the car with snow. [Joe] Casazza [Boston’s public works commissioner] has heard of people hooking up their garden hose and spraying interloping cars until an impregnable force field of ice covers it.

Some Bostonians who evidently weren’t too concerned about tickets chose to leave their cars under a natural crust of ice until it thawed. One 1987 Dodge Daytona, The Globe reported, “resemble[d] a chunk of rock candy.’’

By January 8, the city’s schools had used up four snow days, and working parents were forced to adapt, some missing out on work (and pay) to watch their home-bound kids.

Some kids didn’t stay indoors. An “epidemic of serious sledding injuries’’ brought 22 children to Children’s Hospital between December 29, 1995 and January 5 of the new year.


Meanwhile, spinouts, jacknifes, school bus accidents, and a 40-car pileup on Route 128 in Weston delayed traffic and caused headaches for everyone, everywhere.

But not all was bleak.

Oil delivery crews—dubbed “unsung heroes’’ by The Globe—trekked through the drifts to make sure elderly people’s homes were heated.

January 1996: Three children (from left to right: George McArdles, Jeremy Marcus, and Tom McArdles) earn some money by shoveling snow in Brookline. Those kids are almost 20 years older today. —The Boston Globe

Enterprising teenagers raked in profits shoveling out their neighbors’ cars and sidewalks. One trio of boys split $220, charging $20 per car, $10-15 per sidewalk and $40 for a combo deal. Not a bad day’s pay.

The events of that week also helped pave the way for telecommuting, something many of us have done over the past week or so.

“Besides immobilizing the region, 1996’s steady march of storms has shown thousands of office workers in the Northeast that telecommuting—working from home, linked to the job with computers, faxes and voice mail—is not just a theoretical proposition,’’ The Globe reported. “It is a real alternative to sliding into a snowbank.’’

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