New York City (NYC)
The Great Blizzard of 1888
Nothing extraordinary was occuring on the dawn of March 10, 1888, as New Yorkers awoke to go about their daily routine. Unaware of what was to heading their way, people went to work expecting nothing more than spring showers and temperatures of up to 50 degrees. The U.S Army Signal Corps, the main weather station based in Washington D.C., reported that "fresh brisk winds, with rain...followed by colder brisk westerly winds and fair weather throughout the Atlantic states" could be expected for the next three days. Unfortunately, this prediction trivialized what would become one of the biggest blizzards ever to hit the eastern Atlantic states. The storm began suddenly; a swift rise in wind speeds (up to 100mph) was felt from Sandy Hook to New Jersey and New York, as temperatures dropped below zero the rain turned into a veil of snow, reaching then record height of up to 21 inches. Communication lines between Boston, New York, Washington D.C and Philadelphia were broken because the accumulated ice on overhead telephone lines was too heavy, resulting in downed lines. Roads were impossible to traverse; fire stations could not provide rescue, and necessary deliveries of coal and fresh food were delayed long after the storm passed. Many who made the journey to work without knowing the severity of the storm were later found frozen and buried under layers of snow, some starved due to lack of fresh food. Horses, birds and farm animals were also found dead in areas hit by the storm.
The Great Blizzard of 1888 took a toll of 400 lives in NYC alone. Its effects were felt days after the storm subsided. The cleanup effort was gruesome because of 24 million cubic yards of snow that had to be removed by hand due to a lack of snow plows.
Nevertheless, there were many valuable lessons learned from this tragedy. Gas and telephone lines were moved underground and construction began on underground train stations. Sanitation was also a big problem addressed after the storm; New York City streets were covered in shattered glass, 500,000 pounds of manure and 60,000 gallons of horse urine frozen into chunks by this notorious blizzard.
Visit Additional NYC Blizzards:
1947 1996 2006 2010 2016 Blizzards Defined
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