The 5 Worst Blizzards in American History

Here’s a list that chills us to the bone: the 5 worst blizzards in recorded history.

1. Known as “The Great White Hurricane,” this blizzard hit the East Coast without warning in mid-March in 1888*. It dumped 50 inches of snow in New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia. More than 400 people died, houses and trains were buried in snowdrifts, and 200 ships sank in waves caused by fierce winds.

The terrible horse and buggy gridlock actually inspired the building of America’s first underground subway systems in the following decades.

2. The Knickerbocker Storm of 1922 got its name after a disaster that followed 2 days of snowfall that centered in Washington, D.C. Automobiles stalled, streetcars shut down, and massive quantities of the snow accumulated on the completely flat roof of the Knickerbocker Theater. A crowd between 300 and 1,000 people had packed into the movie house and during intermission, the entire roof collapsed upon them. In the end 98 theatergoers were killed and 133 more were injured.

3. In March of 1993, “The Storm of the Century” stretched from Canada to Cuba, and raged across 26 states. *Along with several feet of snow, hurricane-force winds caused massive ocean swells and resulted in over 6.6 billion in damages along the east coast. The storm was responsible for 310 deaths and shut down the south for 3 days. 

4. Three years later, in January, The Blizzard of 1996 dumped an average of three feet of snow in the northeast and mid-atlantic. Nine states and Washington, D.C. were declared disaster areas and the federal government shut down for almost a week. 

Every major airport on the east coast closed, leaving holiday travelers stranded. In total, the storm claimed the lives of 154 people, many of whom died in car accidents.

In the aftermath heavy rains and melting snow caused massive flooding which killed 33 more people.

5. Snowmageddon, aka the entire month of February, 2010. Three back to back to back blizzards broke new snowfall records in the mid-atlantic. After the second storm, 68 percent of the country was covered in snow. After the third storm, hundreds of thousands of people in the Northeast were left without power. 

Stay warm out there-- and stay safe.