Of all the seasons and various weather patterns to befall the US every year, the winter season is perhaps the most deadly. Blizzards that may come with plenty of warning can still inflict an unpredictable amount of damage to property and human life, and their effects can be felt long after the howling winds and snow have subsided.
Parts of the country are rather used to heavy snowfalls in winter months, but there have been a few notable blizzards in US history that took their victims by surprise and shocked the nation with their brutality. Here are just three of the most extreme, starting with the most recent. Could the next of the super blizzards be on its way this year?
Storm of the Century, 1993
In a four-day stretch from March 12-15, 1993, the “Storm of the Century” rolled across much of the US, causing up to $10 billion in damages and 300 deaths. However staggering these numbers may seem, they would have been much higher without warnings from the National Weather Service two days earlier. For the first time in history, state governors were able to declare a state of emergency prior to a single snowflake touching the ground, helping citizens prepare for the storm to come. The massive storm affected 26 states and reached from Canada to as south as northern Florida, dumping several feet of snow on typically subtropical landscapes and becoming known as one of the most deadly blizzards in US history.
New England Blizzard of 1978
The Northeast is no stranger to the power of nature in winter, but it received more than it bargained for in early February 1978. A forecast for snow seemed miscalculated as the sun shone brightly throughout the day, but later hours brought white-out conditions and hurricane-force gales, taking much of the east coast by surprise. Workers and families were trapped indoors for days, and record snowfalls in New England left residents without heat, electricity, and water for a week. When all was said and done, this devastating nor’easter killed 100 people.
The Great White Hurricane of 1888
Nearly 125 winters have passed since the “Great White Hurricane” pounded the East Coast for three days from March 11-14, 1888, but this torrential storm still lives in infamy to this day. After days of unseasonably warm weather, winds began whipping and temperatures plummeted, blanketing much of the East Coast in feet of snow. With some areas experiencing 50-foot snow drifts, Boston, New York, and other major cities were completely immobilized. After the whopper of a blizzard cleared, fires and floods ensued. In all, 400 people died, including 200 deaths in New York City alone.