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The Worst Snowstorms of our Time

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Those who are living with chilly and cold weather know snowstorms. There were times when weather forecast provide us with sufficient warning but there are times when storms catch us by surprise we do not even know what hit us. Even the plows have difficulty to make the roads clear, schools are closed, flights are delayed or canceled, events are postponed or canceled, and everybody get sore backs from shoveling and snow blowing.  

Just this week, horrible blizzard storm Emma hit some places in Europe, particularly UK, the first after 50 years. Villages in Britain are preparing for power outage as the storm threatened to covered half a meter of snow across the country. The wind-chill would be felt as close to -20c or -4F in northern Scotland. Storm Emma would hurt as 12-straight hours of blizzards and snowfall with savage 70mph gales throughout the night.

However, there are other snowstorms that overrule all experts’ forecasts, breaking records and causing too much devastation. So, for today’s article, we have gathered the ten “worst” snowstorms recorded in human history. We do not measure worst through volume of the snow but we also take into consideration the zero visibility due to hurricane-force winds. Meteorologists have created a special system which is similar to the method used to identify hurricanes that measures the severity of winter storms. With the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale or NESIS consider different factors to produce a single number to represent the severity of the snowstorm – rating scale from one to ten, and in rare occasions, maybe higher.

And here are our roster of the worst, so far, recorded in the world’s history.

“Great Snow”, New England  (1717)

(photo credit: Historic Ipswich)

The Great Snow in 1717 was a result of series of successive four storms that hit in the late February and early March of that year. Since the record-keeping was patchy at that time, nobody knew the severity of the effects in colonial New England. However, it was recorded that there was heavy snow in Philadelphia while Boston was struck the hardest.

The Great Snow started with 5 feet or 1.5m of snow. Later, there was 3 or 4 more feet were added on top of the initial volume until it reached up to about 25 feet which covered some houses and forced residents to exit from their second story windows.

At that period of our history, people traveled on foot or by horseback, and there was no easy way to remove the snow except for shovelling. So when Great Snow hit the ground, roads were blocked for several days and it was impossible to travel from New York City to Boston and vice versa.

At that time, people waited for warmer climate to melt the snow.

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