As I’m sitting in my home office trying to keep warm on this cold and snowy day I wondered about those that live through “true” snow storms. In the southern part of Louisiana we don’t have much experience with snow. I’m really thankful for that.
I’ve been snow skiing many times; in fact I lived in Colorado for 2 years. But I was never as cold there as I am when I’m out in the cold in humid Louisiana. I used to travel to NYC for a particular records management conference every April. Many times there were late season snow storms while I was visiting. One year while at the Javits conference center I received a phone call from my college age daughter telling me that for the life of her she couldn’t get my mother (her MawMaw) off of the streets. “Mom, we can’t see our hands in front of our face, yet she won’t stop shopping”. You would have to know my mom. Fortunately, my daughter relayed my “warning” to mom, and they arrived safely back in our hotel. Not so fortunate a day for Dr. Atkins (Atkins Diet). He died that day after slipping in the icy snow.
We may have the occasional snow storm, but we don’t suffer blizzards here. It turns out the United States has seen some truly monstrous blizzards. By definition, a blizzard is more than just a storm. Blizzards bring very low temperatures, strong winds and lots of blowing snow, leading to whiteouts and snowdrifts that bury homes and cars.
Here are some of the worse blizzards to hit our country.
The Great Blizzard of 1888
More than 400 people in the Northeast died during the Great Blizzard, the worst death toll in United States history for a winter storm. On March 11 and March 12 in 1888, this devastating storm dumped 40 to 50 inches of snow in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Huge snowdrifts buried houses and trains, and 200 ships sank in waves whipped up by fierce winds.
The Great Blizzard of 1899
On Feb. 11, 1899 a storm shut down the Eastern Seaboard. The wintry weather brought record-low temperatures, some of which still stand today, as well as record snowfall. The snow showers started in Florida and moved north, dropping 20 inches in Washington, D.C., in a single day and a record 34 inches in New Jersey.
The White Hurricane
A blizzard with hurricane-force winds, this devastating storm is the deadliest natural disaster to ever hit the Great Lakes region. More than 250 people died when the winter storm (for some crazy reason they called this ”November gale”) struck the Great Lakes on Nov. 7, 1913. Waves on the lakes reached 35 feet high and the storm's sustained wind speed reached 60 mph for more than half a day.
The Armistice Day Blizzard
An exploding bomb went off over the Midwest on Nov. 11, 1940, as cold Northern air collided with warm Gulf Coast moisture. The raging blizzard quickly chilled the air, and fierce winds built 20-foot snowdrifts. A total of 145 deaths were linked to the storm, including about 25 duck hunters who were not prepared for the cold weather forecasters had not predicted the severity of the coming storm.
The Great Appalachian Storm
A winter storm marked by heavy rains, winds and blizzard conditions, the Great Appalachian Storm formed over North Carolina before looping around Ohio, devastating much of the Southeast along the way. The Nov. 24, 1950, storm, responsible for 353 deaths, became a case study for tracking and predicting winter weather.
The Super Bowl Blizzard
The Super Bowl Blizzard takes the trophy for most unusual: A record low-pressure system (961 millibars), it sparked tornadoes in the Southeast before heading into the upper Midwest, where heavy snows and cold killed more than 100,000 farm animals. Unlike many winter storms, which sweep in from Canada, the Super Bowl Blizzard started in the Pacific and crossed the Rocky Mountains. As it headed over the Plains on Jan. 9, 1975, the first of 45 tornadoes spun up. The two-day outbreak killed 12 people and injured 377. In the Midwest, the front mixed with Arctic air from the north and warm Gulf of Mexico moisture, the classic ingredients for a winter blizzard. Heavy snows and winds killed 58 people.
The Storm of the Century
The Storm of the Century wreaked havoc from Cuba to Canada. As strong as a hurricane, covering an entire continent, the storm was responsible for 310 deaths, $6.6 billion in damage, and shut down the South for three days. Coming a week before spring, on March 12, 1993, the hit was hard to take.
Two blizzards in February 2010 broke snowfall records in the mid-Atlantic region, such as a whopping 32.4 inches of snow at Washington's Dulles International Airport. After the second snowstorm in February, 68.1 percent of the country was blanketed by snow. The term "snowmadgeddon" stuck when President Barack Obama used it at the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting during the storm.
The Bomb Cyclone of January 2018
A “bomb cyclone,” the dramatic name for what happens when a storm’s pressure plummets as it explosively intensifies. Though forecasters said this storm was among the most powerful ever observed on the East Coast, much of the cyclone actually remained in the Atlantic Ocean as it lashed the coastal states. I’m sure you can recall all of this recent news.
As I finished this article a giant chunk of ice fell from my roof onto the patio outside of my office. I about jumped out of my skin. I just don’t think I would survive living up north. I’m just sayin… I admire my friends and family that do.
Kathryn Smith, CDIA+ is the owner of Advanced Imaging Solutions, an award winning records management services and Systems Company. How safe are your valuable business records?