The Worst 10 Winter Storms In U.S. History

Hey, giant winter storm Juno spiraling straight for the Northeast, I'mma let you finish, but America has had some of the best snow storms of all time. Today, as those of you in range of the billion or so inches of expected snow are huddled in your bed (or bitterly headed into work because the storm did not strike fast enough), let us take a moment to reflect on all the other crazy snowstorms America has endured. Here's something that my throw you for a loop: Most of them occurred long before the existence of Netflix.

Nobody is entirely certain just how terrible Juno is going to be (even the goddess she is named after is described as a mystery because scholars still can't quite agree on what she stands for), so there's no way to know whether or not Juno is about to join the ranks of terrible American storms until it happens. But reading up on this country's past snowpocalypses past seems like a good enough way to prepare yourself for anything the next few days can throw at you, so here it is folks, a list of the worst winter storms the US has ever seen, from the oldest to the most recent:

The Children's Blizzard of 1888

This blizzard wasn't so devastating itself, except for several factors that made an otherwise endurable snowstorm deadly. It dropped about six inches of snow in areas of Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Montana on January 11th, on what was an otherwise balmy day. When the snow began falling, teachers in one-room schoolhouses sent children home early, not knowing that the temperature would sharply plummet from slightly above freezing to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Thousands of people who went out to enjoy the nice day were trapped outside when the blizzard hit seemingly out of nowhere, resulting in a death toll of 235. Pictured above is a surface analysis of the blizzard.

The Great Blizzard of 1888

This blizzard was so far-reaching on the East Coast that it hit areas from Washington, D.C. to Maine, starting on March 11 on 1888. Gusts hit 85 miles per hour, and in some areas of New York City, snowdrifts came all the way up to second story windows. All of the above ground water and gas lines froze, and 15,000 commuters got stuck on elevated platforms, at one point only being rescued by people with ladders who charged them a small fee because apparently humans were also capable of sucking in the 19th century, too. 200 people died in New York alone, and hundreds of boats sunk due to heavy winds in the Atlantic. Pictured above is Brooklyn in aftermath of the storm.

The Great Blizzard of 1899

Apparently before we gave blizzards actual names we just called them "The Great," so let's hope Juno isn't too bitter about that. This particular storm actually started in Florida on February 11, 1899 before working its way up North, dropping as much as three feet of snow on Northeastern states. The cold wave that came just before it were some of the coldest temperatures southern states had ever seen, hitting as low as 29 degrees in Miami. Pictured above are people having a snowball fight on the steps of the Florida capitol.

White Hurricane

Nobody can quite agree on a name for this ginormous blizzard, which has also gone by the "Big Blow," "Freshwater Fury," and the "Great Lakes Storm of 1913". The blizzard had hurricane-like winds and struck on November 7th, striking the area brutally with the convergence of two storm fronts and quickly becoming the worst natural disaster the area had ever seen. Over 250 people died in the storm, and ships were overturned in four out of five of the Great Lakes. Pictured above is a man watching a wave break on Lake Michigan from the safety of a bridge.

The Knickerbocker Storm

This storm gets its name from the infamous tragedy that occurred post-snowfall. The storm, which hit the middle and upper Atlantic states on January 27, 1922, caused a record snowfall of 28 inches in Washington, D.C. The next day, patrons enjoying intermission while watching a show in the Knickerbocker Theater when the roof collapsed under the heavy weight of the accumulated snow, killing 98 people and injuring 133. The two architects of the building later committed suicide. Above is a picture post-collapse.

Armistice Day Blizzard

This blizzard began in the Midwest region of the US on November 12, 1940. Like the Children's Storm in 1888, the day began as a warm one, and since most people had the day off, a lot of them were outside enjoying the weather when the low pressure system descended and the few flurries that were predicted turned out to be 28 inches of snowfall. Snowdrifts were as high as 20 feet in some areas due to heavy windfall, and 154 people died, as well as many farm animals in the region. Pictured above is the surface analysis of the storm.

The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950

On November 23, 1950, this extratropical snowstorm impacted over 22 states, and caused a snowfall of over 57 inches to the Appalachians. The gusts peaked in Concord, New Hampshire at up to 160 miles per hour, and at the time, it was the costliest storm the US had ever seen, with $66.7 million worth of damages (not adjusting for inflation). Between the winds and the devastating cold front, the storm killed 353 people and injured 160 more. Pictured above is surface analysis of the storm.

The Super Bowl Blizzard

In January 8, 1975, just days before the Vikings and the Steelers faced off in the Super Bowl, this storm unexpectedly originated in the Pacific Ocean before heading to the upper Midwest and sparking up to 45 tornadoes along the way. The pressure dropped to all-time lows due to the convergence of a heat and cold front, causing the deaths of 58 people and injury of 377. Pictured above is the mobile home damage in St. Claire County, Louisiana.

The Storm Of The Century, 1993

I'm going to go ahead and caution anyone from calling anything the "[Blank] of the Century" before the century is over, because that seems like tempting fate, particularly in the case of this giant winter storm—it doubled as a hurricane! It caused huge snowfall totals from Alabama to Maine, as well as a massive amount of coastal flooding in Florida. 40% of the population of the United States was affected by the storm, with 10 million people losing power and over 100 lives lost. Pictured above is the satellite imagery of the super storm.


The February 2010 succession of two blizzards got its official name once Obama used the term "Snowmageddon" at a press conference, referring to the storm that blustered through the Atlantic region and caused a record snowfall in every one of the mid-Atlantic states. By the time both storms hit, 68% of the country was covered in snowfall. The storm caused 14 US casualties. Pictured above is the snow accumulation in Dupont Circle of Washington, D.C., where people made headlines for cross-country skiing through the streets.

Images: Getty Images; NOAA Photo Library, soerfm, bushranger, Salomonceb, cliffclof, rockfang, thegreatdr, Magnus Manske, undeadwarrior, AgnosticPreachersKid/Wikimedia Commons