The term blizzard refers to a winter storm that brings unusually high amounts of snow, extremely strong winds and unbearable cold weather. Blizzards have been responsible for thousands of deaths and possibly billions of dollars worth of property damage. Among some of the worst ever recorded are:
The blizzard of 1888. This occurred in March over a 3 day period. It slammed New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut with snowfall amounts being reported between 40 to 50 inches. Strong winds created snowdrifts 50 feet high in some areas. It is believed that approximately 400 people died in the storm.
The schoolhouse blizzard of 1888. On January 12th of that year thousands of people were caught unawares as the balmy day gave way to an unexpected arctic blast. Temperatures suddenly dropped as low as -40 degrees below zero catching many people improperly dressed and away from home. Large amounts of snow set in and more than 240 school children were reported as victims of this storm.
Armistice Day blizzard of 1940.Over a two day period South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin were whited out by this unexpected winter storm. 27 inches of snow fell, winds were reported to be 80 mph and the temperatures dropped 50 degrees. Snow drifts were 20 feet high or more. 154 people died in the storm.
Blizzard of 1999. Within a two day time line Chicago received 22 inches of snow and temperatures were recorded at -20 degrees below zero. 73 people were killed in this storm.
The Blizzard of 1978. This one occurred in the northeastern states with reports of 50 plus inches of snow in some areas. A reported 56 people lost their lives over this 5 day period.
The great storm of 1975. With winds as high as 60 miles an hour and a great deal of snowfall the drifts became 20 feet high. The unusual aspect of this particular storm is that it also caused over 45 tornadoes in the midwest. A dozen people were killed by the tornadoes and another 48 died from the blizzard itself.
The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950. Six days in November this blizzard raged. Almost 22 states felt the affects. Enormous amounts of snow and winds of up to 110 mph, resulted in the deaths of 353 people and more than one million being without power.
One often thinks of places such as Alaska or Canada when blizzards are mentioned. Unfortunately they do occur in the lower 48 as well, with deadly results.