Through the years, winter has brought its fair share of snow, ice, and hail, however these are some of the most significant snowstorms throughout history.
The Great Snow of 1717
This snow storm consisted of several storms that dropped more than five feet of snow on the New England and New York Colonies between late February and early March. After the last storm had passed in early March, many homes were buried past the first floor and single-story homes were left completely covered. Snowdrifts piled up over the third story of some buildings, shutting roads down for weeks.
These storms were especially brutal to livestock and agriculture. Many animals were killed, and trees were damaged by grazers who were left vulnerable due to the piled up snow. As much as 95 percent of all deer in New England were estimated to have died because of these storms.
The Great Blizzard of 1888 and The Children’s Blizzard
In March of 1888, three days of heavy snow fell in the entire northeastern United States. On the fourth day, when the snow stopped and the sun started to shine, some states were left with snowdrifts as high as 50 feet. Everything was shut down for more than a week.
Houses burned due to snow-locked fire trucks and hundreds of people died from the cold. Even after spring appeared to be making its appearance, floods created by the snowmelt created havoc. The best thing to come from this storm was the creation of the first underground subway system in Boston.
The Children’s Blizzard blasted the American Plains on January 12, 1888. It had its greatest impact on children in portions of Nebraska and South Dakota, causing a high proportion of children to be numbered among the storm’s victims. Winds accompanying the storm whipped snow into the air, limiting visibility to near zero which made even the shortest journey difficult at best. But the real killer in this storm was the frigid air advancing behind the low pressure system.
The Great Blizzard of 1899
This blizzard began small in Florida, dumping a few flakes on Tampa in February of that year. Soon blizzard-like conditions were seen all along the west coast Florida. Moving north, the storm brought plummeting temperatures and more snow. Cape May, N.J. saw an astounding 34 inches of snow.
This storm is also known for bringing temperatures to low-29 degrees in Miami and damaging crops in Cuba.
The Great Lakes Storm of 1913
At the beginning of the twentieth century, a storm blew through in November and caused more than 250 deaths. Known as “The Big Blow” and “Freshwater Fury,” four days of storms destroyed and stranded 19 ships, and caused the modern equivalent of several hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
The storm raged for more than 16 hours with winds as high as 90 mph. When it ended, citizens were left to dig out from beneath six-foot snowdrifts. Shipping companies began to design more stable ships and towns along the Great Lakes looked for ways to protect or bury utility cables to protect them from severe weather in the future.
Armistice Day Blizzard
In early November 1940, the day started out unseasonably warm but as night fell, conditions deteriorated. In the Midwestern U.S., winds reached 80 mph, and snowfall totals up to 27 inches were recorded. At least 145 deaths were attributed to the storm, with half of them being duck hunters who were caught outdoors during the storm. Twenty-foot snowdrifts made it impossible to seek shelter.
The U.S. Weather Bureau was criticized for not having predicted the storm and changes were made so that Chicago would be in full operation 24 hours a day and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul offices were upgraded to be able to issue forecasts as well.
The world’s worst blizzard in terms of death occurred in Iran of February of 1972 with estimated 4,000 – 5,000 deaths during a storm that lasted a week. Although little information was recorded about this blizzard, contemporary reports said that whole communities were wiped out with the city of Ardakan there were no survivors in the cities of Kakkan and Kumar. In the northwest, near the border of Turkey, the village of Sheklab and its 100 inhabitants were buried by up to eight meters of snow.
Great Blizzard of 1978
A two-day blizzard hit the New England and New York metropolitan areas in February of 1978. In many places, the snow fell for a solid 33 hours. Billions of dollars worth of damages and hundreds of deaths were left in the end. In Massachusetts, thousands of ill-informed workers were stranded in their offices for days afterwards, and some others were trapped in cars along the side of the road.
The storm happened to occur during a new moon, which created a stronger tide, further exacerbating the damages to seaside communities. Homes, streets, and businesses were washed away by giant waves.
Storm of the Century 1978
Known as the ’93 Superstorm, the United States saw two days of hurricane winds, tornadoes, and a blizzard that ravaged the east coast. Massive accumulations of snow even appeared in Florida. Buildings were destroyed, tornadoes raged, and lightning strikes caused more than $10 billion in damage. This storm will most likely be remembered as the Big One.
Quebec Ice Storm 1998
For six days in January, freezing rain fell in Ontario,Quebec, and New Brunswick. Whereas most freezing rain lasts for a few hours, this storm saw more than 80 hours of freezing rain, nearly double the annual average. Trees and hydro wires fell and utility poles and transmission towers came down causing massive power outages, some lasting as long as a month. To date, it is the most expensive natural disaster in Canada.
Lhunze County 2008
Tibet is already known for bitterly cold weather in the winter, as it is home to some of the world’s tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. Still the snow storm that hit this county in October of 2008 was a shock to many citizens.
Chinese officials reported up to 59 inches of snow depth as some villages saw continuous snow for 36 hours. Only seven deaths were reported, however many buildings collapsed from the amount of snow. Rescue crews fought to clear roads and bring food and aid to those trapped by the storm. The unforgiving storm had detrimental economic effects as local farmers were forced to sell or slaughter large parts of their livestock.