Special Report

The Worst Blizzards of All Time

5. The Blizzard of 1921
> RSI score: 31.89
> Duration: Feb 18th – Feb 22nd
> Region: South
> Affected area: 256,548 square miles
> Population affected: 16.7 million
> Notable snowfall: 30 inches (Mount Vernon, Arkansas)

The Regional Snowfall Index (RSI), a NOAA-developed system to assess the impact of snowstorms in different regions of the U.S., ranked this blizzard as a Category 5, or extreme, event — one of only 26 storms so classified since 1900. Arkansas bore the brunt of the storm, with Mount Vernon accumulating 30 inches of snow and six other communities getting at least two feet. The state capital, Little Rock, got off comparatively lightly with 11.6 inches of snow and 1.5 inches of sleet.

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4. The 100-Hour Snowstorm of February 1969
> RSI score: 34.03
> Duration: Feb 22nd – Feb 28th
> Region: Northeast
> Affected area: 174,950 square miles
> Population affected: 58.9 million
> Notable snowfall: 77 inches (Coos County, New Hampshire)

Boston took a direct hit from the “100-Hour Storm” in late February 1969. Logan Airport was covered by more than 26 inches. More than 70 inches fell at Pinkham Notch Base Station in New Hampshire.

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3. The Blizzard of 1927, Northern Rockies
> RSI score: 34.20
> Duration: Apr 10th – Apr 15th
> Region: Northern Rockies and Plains
> Affected area: 335,119 square miles
> Population affected: 2.1 million
> Notable snowfall: 25.8 inches (Scottsbluff, Nebraska)

No further information is available about this storm.

Source: Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

2. The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950
> RSI score: 34.69
> Duration: Nov 22nd – Nov 30th
> Region: Ohio Valley
> Affected area: 308,845 square miles
> Population affected: 49.2 million
> Notable snowfall: 57 inches (Central Appalachia)

On Thanksgiving weekend, the Central Appalachians weathered a massive storm, part blizzard, part hurricane. Colburn Creek, West Virginia, had to dig out from under 62 inches of snow. Eastern Kentucky was also hard hit with more than a foot of snow. The storm impacted 22 states, with hurricane force winds felt as far north as New Hampshire. The death total reached more than 300.

Source: Angel_1978 / iStock via Getty Images

1. The White Hurricane
> RSI score: 39.07
> Duration: Jan 23rd, 1978 – Jan 28th, 1978
> Region: Upper Midwest
> Affected area: 233,580 square miles
> Population affected: 23.6 million
> Notable snowfall: 12.9 inches (Dayton, Ohio)

The Ohio Valley and Great Lakes region endured one its worst winter storms in late January of 1978. In addition to massive snow totals, the storm whipped up near-hurricane strength winds, earning the event its “White Hurricane” moniker. Ohio bore the brunt of the bad weather, with 51 people dying in that state. But across the area businesses, schools, and transportation were closed for days.

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