The 11 Worst Blizzards in U.S. History

These are the most devastating snowstorms to ever hit U.S. soil

Bad winter blizzard
The worst snowstorms in the U.S. brought with them snow and fierce winds and were responsible for many deaths. Getty Images

It seems that every time a big snowstorm is in the forecast, the media hails it as "record breaking" or "historic," in some way or another. But how do these storms truly match up to the worst storms to hit the United States? Take a look at some of the worst blizzards to ever hit U.S. soil.

11. The Chicago Blizzard of 1967

This storm dumped 23 inches of snow on northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana, dumping 23 inches of snow.

The storm - which hit on January 26 - wreaked havoc across metropolitan Chicago, leaving 800 Chicago Transit Authority buses and 50,000 automobiles abandoned all around the city.

10. The Great Blizzard of 1899

This devastating snowstorm was notable for the amount of snow it produced - around 20 to 35 inches - as well as where it hit the hardest - Florida, Louisiana, and Washington D.C. These southern regions are not normally accustomed to such large amount of snow and were thus even more overwhelmed by the snowy conditions. 

9. The Great Storm of 1975

Not only did this intense storm drop two feet of snow over the Midwest over four days in January, 1975, but it also created 45 tornadoes. The snow and the tornadoes were responsible for the deaths of more than 60 people and property damage topping $63 million.

8. The Knickerbocker Storm

Over two days in late January 1922, nearly three feet of snow fell across Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

But it wasn't just the amount of snow that fell - it was the weight of the snow. It was a particularly heavy, wet snow that collapsed houses and roofs, including the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater, a popular venue in Washington D.C., which killed 98 people and injured 133.

7. The Armistice Day Blizzard

On November 11, 1940 - what was then called Armistice Day - a strong snowstorm combined with fierce winds to create 20 foot snowdrifts across the Midwest.

This storm was responsible for the deaths of 145 people and thousands of livestock.

6. The Blizzard of 1996

More than 150 people died during this storm that hit the east coast of the U.S. from January 6 to 8 of 1996. The blizzard, and subsequent flooding, also caused $4.5 billion in property damages.

5. The Children's Blizzard

This tragic storm occurred on January 12, 1888. While it packed several inches of snow, this storm was most notable for the sudden and unexpected temperature drop that accompanied it. On what started as a warm day (by Dakota territory and Nebraska standards) of several degrees above freezing, temperatures instantly plummeted to a wind chill of minus 40.  Children, who were sent home by the teachers because of the snow, were unprepared for the sudden cold. Two hundred thirty-five kids died that day trying to get home from school.

4. The White Hurricane

This blizzard - most notable for its hurricane force winds - is still the deadliest natural disaster to ever hit the Great Lakes region of the U.S. The storm hit on November 7, 1913, causing 250 deaths and packed winds sustained at over 60 miles per hour for almost twelve hours

3. The Storm of the Century

On March 12, 1993 - a storm that was both a blizzard and a cyclone wreaked havoc from Canada to Cuba.

Labeled the 'Storm of the Century,' this snowstorm caused 318 deaths and $6.6 billion in damage. But thanks to a successful five-day warning from the National Weather Service, many lives were saved thanks to the preparations that some states were able to put into place prior to the storm.

2. The Great Appalachian Storm

On November 24, 1950 a storm rolled over the Carolinas on its way to Ohio that brought with it heavy rains, winds, and snow. The storm brought as much as 57 inches of snow and was responsible for 353 deaths and became a case study later used to track and predict weather.

1. The Great Blizzard of 1888

This storm, which brought 40 to 50 inches of snow to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York took the lives of more than 400 people throughout the northeast. This is the highest death toll every recorded for a winter storm in the U.S. The Great Blizzard buried houses, cars, and trains and was responsible for the sinking of 200 ships thanks to its fierce winds.