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The top 10 winter storms to hit the United States

Feb 09, 2013 12:31 am

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Jim Bourg  / Reuters

Residents of the Boston suburb of Medford, Massachusetts dig their cars out of the snow in this file picture. Jim Bourg / Reuters


As the East Coast of America prepares for what could be one of the largest blizzards on record, we take a look at ten of the biggest snowstorms to hit the U.S.:

10. The Cleveland Superbomb, Jan 25-27, 1978

Also known as the Great Blizzard of 1978, this affected large swathes of the US. One to three feet of snowfall was whipped up into 25 foot drifts by 100 mph winds, killing over 70 people.

9. The Superbowl Blizzard of Jan 9-12, 1975

Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico mixed with colder air from the Rockies, causing devastating snowfalls and over 45 tornadoes in the south west. 70 people were killed.

8. The Blizzard of Jan 2-4, 1999

One of Chicago’s worst ever storms, a record 18.6 inches fell in the first day alone. Temperatures fell as low as -30° Celsius. 73 people were killed, with 32 of the deaths resulting from heart attacks brought on by shovelling snow.

7. The Knickerbocker Storm, Jan 27-28 1922

So-called for the tragedy that occurred at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Washington, D.C. It was the newest and biggest movie theatre in the city, and was packed when the storm came. 98 people were killed, and more than 133 injured, when the roof collapsed. Around 22,400 square miles of land were affected by the blizzard, an area almost as large as Scotland.

6. The Armistice Day Storm, Nov 11-12, 1940

Hitting the Midwest hard, this storm brought around 27 inches of snow and winds of up to 80 mph. The storm came in the middle of duck hunting season, leading to the deaths of 25 hunters. A total of 154 were killed in total, with 66 sailors drowned in Lake Michigan.

5. The Great Lakes Storm, Nov 7-10, 1913

One of the region’s deadliest natural disasters, over 250 people were killed in a blizzard that lasted for 16 hours. High winds caused a whiteout on the roads and even more problems on the lakes. 19 ships were destroyed, 19 more were stranded by waves that reached 35 feet in height. Almost 200 sailors were killed on Lake Huron alone.

4. The Children’s Blizzard, Jan 12, 1888

The Children’s or Schoolhouse Blizzard was so named for the high number of children that perished in Nebraska, Iowa, and the Dakotas. Unseasonably warm weather preceded the storm, leaving many people unprepared for the sudden drop to -40° Celsius. Many teachers decided to send the children home, whilst other kept them in the schoolhouses. By the end of the day, around 230 people, the majority of whom were children, had been killed.

3. The Great Appalachian Storm, Nov 24-30, 1950

Carried by winds reaching 110mph, this storm reached 22 of the US states. 353 people were killed and one million were left without electricity. The storm caused a vast amount of damage, forcing insurers to pay out an historic $66.7 million.

2. The Storm of the Century, Mar 11-15, 1993

Also called the White Hurricane, this was a storm of almost unprecedented magnitude. Bringing with it heavy rains, winds and tornadoes, the storm stretched from Canada to Central America. Although many states were affected, the focus was the East Coast and Cuba, with Tennessee receiving 60 inches of snow. Over 300 people were killed.

1. The Great Blizzard of Mar 11-14, 1888

The worst winter storm in US history caused the deaths of over 400 people. Many states were left under a blanket of 40-50 inches of snow, which was sculpted by high winds into 50 foot drifts. 200 ships were destroyed by the storms, causing the deaths of around 100 people. Conditions were so bad that many fire stations remained closed, meaning the accompanying flooding and fires were not dealt with effectively.

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