The Worst US Winter Storms

The Worst US Winter Storms

1.
The Great Blizzard of 1888 (the Great White Hurricane)
March 11 - 14, 1888
Eastern United States

Snowfall of 40 to 50 inches was recorded over New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as sustained winds created drifts as much as 50 feet tall. Total deaths are thought to have exceeded 400. Most of the cities on the eastern seaboard were shut down for days, if not weeks.

2.
The Storm of the Century
March 11 - 15, 1993
Eastern United States

This massive cyclonic storm had arms that at one point reached from Canada to Central America. More than 300 were killed.

Alabama and Georgia were hit by as much as six inches of snow. Areas further south received up to 16 inches of rain. Tornadoes and thunderstorms broke out all over the South.

In the northeast, record low temperatures were accompanied by large amounts of snow; some affected areas received as much as 3.5 feet, while drifts piled as high as 35 feet. Storm surges as high as twelve feet were recorded.

3.
The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950
Eastern United States
November 24 - 30, 1950

Heavy winds, rain and blizzard conditions followed an extratropical cyclone as it moved through the Eastern United States. Deaths totaled 353, and US insurance companies ended up paying more for damages than for any previous storm. Record cold was recorded in Florida (24 degrees F), Georgia (3 degrees F), Kentucky (-2 degrees F) among others.

4.
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 (The Big Blow)
Nov 7 - 10, 1913
Midwestern US and Ontario Canada

Also known as the Freshwater Fury and the White Hurricane, the Big Blow may have been the worst US winter storm on record. It killed more than 250, primarily from ships that were sink. Five of the twelve ships downed by the storm were never found.

Caused by the convergence of two storm fronts over the Great Lakes’ relatively warm waters, the storm generated 60-90 mph winds that lasted as long as 16 hours. Wind driven waves rose to 35 feet and whiteouts covered the region. The cyclonic system, with its counterclockwise winds, was, in fact, a hurricane.

The storm was of the same type—a November gale—that famously sank the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975.

5.
The Schoolhouse Blizzard (aka The Schoolchildren’s or Children’s Blizzard)
January 12, 1888
Great Plains States

This blizzard gets its name from the many schoolchildren who died when trapped in one room school houses. More than 230 are said to have died.

The tragedy of this storm was created by its suddenness, and by the warm conditions that immediately preceded it. Lulled into complacency by a balmy day, people ventured from their houses to do chores and head to town. Many were improperly dressed. Then, an arctic front crashed into moisture laden air from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing sudden drops of temperature to as low as -40 F, as well as large amounts of snow.

This was the first of two major blizzards in 1888.

6.
Armistice Day Blizzard
Midwestern United States
November 11 - 12, 1940

The Armistice Day Blizzard was an early storm that encompassed Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Snowfall of up to 27 inches were combined with winds of 80 miles per hour, snow drifts of twenty feet and a fifty degree drop in temperature. The Blizzard surprised many hunters who were out for the beginning of duck season and had not prepared for such a storm. In Minnesota, twenty five hunters are said to have died. In all, 154 died in the storm, including 66 sailors on Lake Michigan.

7.
The Knickerbocker Storm
January 27 - 28, 1922
Upper South and Mid Atlantic States

This storm was named for the collapse of the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington, D.C., which killed 98 and injured 133. A storm cyclone which dropped as much as three feet of snow in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Knickerbocker affected 22,400 square miles of northeastern United States.

7. The Blizzards of 2010
February 5-6; February 9-10, 2010
Mid Atlantic States, Northeast

Affecting the entire eastern seaboard, these storms dumped as much as 40 inches each on the eastern United States.

8.
Blizzard of 1999
Midwestern United States
January 2 - 4, 1999

With 22 inches of snow in Chicago, the Blizzard of 1999 was rated at the time by the National Weather Service as the second worse to hit the Midwest in the 20th Century. Temperature as low as -20 degrees fahrenheit were recorded. Storm related deaths totaled 73 persons.

9.
The Great Blizzard of 1899
February 11 - 14, 1899
Continental United States

From Georgia to Maine, temperatures dropped to record temperatures. Tallahassee reached -2 F; Minden, Louisiana, -16 F; Camp Logan, Montana, -61F; Washignton, D.C., -15 F. Snowfall began in Florida and moved rapidly north. Washington, D.C. recorded 20 inches in a single day; New Jersey, 34 inches—still a record.

10.
The Great Storm of 1975
January 9 - 12, 1975
Central and Southeast US

This storm system resulted in snow in the midwest and 45 tornadoes in the southeast, together killing a total of 70 people. It began in the Pacific, crossed the Rockies, and then collided with an arctic air front and tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. It produced record low barometric pressures in the midwestern United States.

Strangely, while the storm produced huge amounts of snow in the upper midwest, it also produced record high temperatures. More than a foot of snow fell from Nebraska to Minnesota, while sustained winds of 30 - 50 mph produced 20 foot snowdrifts. Meanwhile, in Chicago, Indianapols and Indiana, record high temperatures were set.

Posted by The Editor on 02/06 at 03:24 PM

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