Former reporter shares memories of covering Blizzard of ‘77

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:58 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - It was 46 years ago. The Blizzard of ‘77. Kevin Mastellon was a reporter at the time and he’s sharing his memories of that historic storm.

Watertown was bombarded with more than 66 inches of snow over the course of 4 days, ending on February 1.

During that time, Mastellon was a reporter at WWNY-TV.

“I was kind of aghast walking down the middle of the road where there’s normally a lot of traffic. People were going by on skis. It was kind of crazy,” he said.

In addition to skis, our film footage from back then showed snowmobiles running on the few roads that were actually accessible - and it was a seldom few.

“Going off the main roads meant instant disaster. You were going to be in snow up to the hood of the car or higher,” said Mastellon.

One of Mastellon’s main destinations was the Best Western on Washington Street in Watertown.

“It was like the oasis,” he said.

There, about 300 people took shelter from the storm.

Some of them spoke French and Mastellon interviewed them.

“My French teacher would probably roll over if he heard what I said. I wasn’t very good in that subject in high school,” he said.

Mastellon also reported from the post office, where parcels were stacked high since most folks including couriers were snowed in.

“People got a little nervous about paying bills. They’d sent their check but their check was sitting in a post office somewhere waiting to be moved,” he said.

The conditions may have been miserable, but Mastellon tells us he certainly wasn’t.

“Being a reporter was kind of cool. It’s a good memory. We had a lot of fun,” he said.

How did the blizzard of ‘77 stack up to our more recent blizzard of ‘22? Mastellon says the snowstorm of the 70s was worse.

“It isn’t that we were primitive. I think we did the best we could. The crews did the best they could with what they knew and what they had available to them,” he said.

Four days of snow, street skiing, and shoveling left Mastellon with one main memory.

“My most vivid takeaway from the blizzard is how well people in the north country handled it,” he said.