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American Blizzard History

Photo Courtesy of Emily Sierra Poertner
Photo Courtesy of Emily Sierra Poertner


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “blizzard” as a severe snowstorm that goes on for a long time. The 2016 blizzard affectionately named, “Jonas,” was not the first, or the worst, of its kind. Jonas caused at least twenty people to die in traffic or shoveling-related accidents. While there is not an exact number yet, it is estimated that the damage caused by Jonas will end up costing billions of dollars. Many cities up and down the east coast saw at least a foot of snow, but Glengary, WV saw the most at 42 inches. Jonas broke records with snowfall in Allentown and Harrisburg, PA, Baltimore, MD, New York, NY, and Newark, NJ.

Jonas was bad, but let’s not forget about other blizzards that have put cities out of commission for days. For example, the President’s Day Blizzard of February 2003 lasted six days and caused $20 million in damage. Cities were shut down from Boston to D.C., and snowfall varied from 15 to 30 inches.

The North American blizzard of February 2010 was also called “Snowmageddon,” but only lasted for two days. 20 to 38 inches of snow fell in the east and crippled travel for all of the major cities. This was one of four storms from 2009-2010 that caused at least forty deaths. In December 2009 the first of the storms formed over the Gulf of Mexico and in just 24 hours, over two feet of snow had accumulated.

All of these storms were devastating, but the one known as the “Storm of the Century” affected about half of the U.S. population in 1993. As a result of the blizzard 257 Americans were killed. In Burlington, VT, a record low temperature of negative 12 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded, and in Daytona Beach, FL, it was 31 degrees. Atlanta saw four inches of snow, but as the storm went up north, accumulation went up as well. The Appalachian Mountains saw up to 50 inches of snow and wind speeds were above 70 mph in many places, and above 100 mph in others. Meteorologists said that if it were a hurricane instead of a snowstorm, it would have been a category three hurricane.

All of these snowstorms were devastating, and many more will happen in years to come. It is important to stay prepared and safe during these times. Many people go out to the grocery store to buy bread, milk, and eggs. Bread is great, but the milk and eggs will expire if the power goes out. The American Red Cross has an extensive, practical checklist of things to have or get in your house before a snowstorm comes. They also have a register on their website to let your family know that you’re okay. If you don’t have Internet access, they also have a phone number you can call. All of this information is on their website, and should be written down for safekeeping in case of a snowstorm.