Similar to the Great Blizzard of
1888, the blizzard of 1947 was an unexpected visitor, ready to wreak
havoc on the post-holiday calm that had settled over NYC. The weather
bureau predicted cloudiness and cold winds throughout the day, but
little mention was made of snow accumulation. On December 26, 1947,
snowflakes began their descent unexpectedly and within the next 24
hours the city was covered by 26.4 inches of white mounds, with snow
falling at the rate of 3 inches per hour. Although the blizzard of
1888 had a more powerful impact, claiming up to 400 lives and
destroying communication systems all across the north Atlantic States,
one distinguishing factor puts the blizzard of 1947 in the ranks of
the strongest snow storms to ever hit the NYC region: quantity of snow
The blizzard of 1947 was fed by the moist weather traveling up from the Gulf Stream and cold weather coming from the north, but what made it different was an absence of high wind speeds and below zero temperatures that made the blizzard of 1888 so deadly. The blizzard of 1947 was known as a mesoscale storm; instead of affecting a vast area evenly, it descended on one spot with a concentrated force.
NYC's transportation systems were devastated, cars and buses were stranded in the streets and train stations faced delays of up to 12 hours. The estimated number of people killed by the storm was 77 and it was widely speculated that if temperatures were colder and wind speeds more severe this number would have been much higher. Other issues that developed during this crisis was a lack of efficient snow plows, slow police response due to inadequate staffing to manage the overwhelming activity of phone lines and difficulty with delivery of crucial supplies to people and local businesses. Although the exact figure is unknown, the damage caused by this storm is estimated at several millions of dollars.