History

Legendary Snowstorms to hit the Berkshires

Memorable blizzards, nor’easters from 1888 to the present in the Berkshires

From under a snowdrift twice his height, Howard Derby, 7, of Erwin Street, Pittsfield, digs out mailboxes on Feb. 26, 1946. Snowdrifts of 10 to 15 feet in height formed overnight as winds of up to 60 miles per hour persisted for over 12 hours.

Compiled by Jennifer Huberdeau

Nor’easter expected? Blizzard in the forecast? Either prediction is a sure sign that media outlets will dig up photos and facts from historic storms of years past. Sure to be included are the Blizzard of 1888 and the Blizzard of 1978. But were those the worst storms to hit the Berkshires? To find out, we hit The Berkshire Eagle’s archives. Want to see more historical photos? Visit berkshireeagle.com/history to view our featured “Days Gone By” photo galleries.

A horse and carriage appear after traveling through a snowbank tunnel to the road in Sheffield after the Blizzard of 1888. The blizzard began the evening of March 11 and lasted 3 days. Reported snow totals vary from 36 to 42 inches.
A train stuck in “the Junction” in West Pittsfield during the Blizzard of 1888 lost 32 carloads of hogs. The hogs froze to death during the night. When the train was freed two days later, six carloads of sheep and another of cattle were saved.
Merchants dug tunnels, from the sidewalk to the street, through the large snowbanks lining North Street after a storm dropped 32 inches on Pittsfield on March 14 and 15, 1915.
Snowfall totals from the Blizzard of 1978 ranged from 11 to 19 inches across the Berkshires. Those totals may not seem impressive when compared to the 27 inches that fell in Boston and 40 inches reported in parts of Rhode Island, but the blizzard was still a pain for those living in the Berkshires.

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