Special Report

25 Worst Holiday Storms of All Time

Mario Tama / Getty Images

Winter Storm Elliott has wreaked havoc on travelers this Christmas, cancelling more than 5,000 flights across the country. The Great Lakes region and the Northeast have been hit with flooding, record-cold temperatures, feet of snow and blizzard conditions. The storm represents a major inconvenience for Americans at what is the busiest travel time of the year. It is, of course, not the first major storm to throw a wrench in travel plans for millions of Americans.  

Ten years ago this December, two major storms struck the United States, one after another. The first hit the mid-Atlantic and New England beginning on Dec. 18, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow on Philadelphia. Then another storm blanketed the Northern Rockies and Plains states over Christmas, finally letting up just before New Year’s Eve. The storms lead to road conditions that killed at least a dozen people and left motorists stranded. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local news and weather sources to identify the worst storms to hit during the holidays. We considered all storms that occurred from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. 

In many cases, these storms dropped over 2 feet of snow. While not all of the storms on this list involved record snowfall, they were still highly disruptive and destructive, in part because they produced strong winds, dangerous and violent seas, or because they affected wide areas, in some cases more than a dozen states. Here are some of the worst blizzards of all time

Some of the storms made the list because they affected particularly vulnerable places. In some cases, this means storms directly hit and shut down major metropolises. In other cases, the storms predominantly impacted southern states that are less prepared for major snowfall events, and so the storms were more disruptive and costly. One such storm was the Christmas Coastal Snowstorm of 1989, where more than a foot of snow fell on states that are more used to major hurricanes than snow. These are the most powerful hurricanes of all time.

Click here to see the 25 worst holiday storms of all time

Source: Thanks to the McIlroy family for sharing this photo.

1. The Historic Texas Snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 20 – Dec. 21, 1929
> Region most affected: Texas
> Notable snowfall: 26 inches (Hillsboro, TX)

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Source: Jewish National Fund / Wikimedia Commons

2. Great Blizzard of 1947
> Duration: Dec. 26, 1947
> Region most affected: The Northeast
> Notable snowfall: 25.8 inches (New York, NY)

Source: Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

3. The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950
> Duration: Nov. 22 – Nov. 30, 1950
> Region most affected: Ohio Valley
> Notable snowfall: 62 inches (Coburn Creek, WV)

Source: Boston City Archives / Flickr

4. December 11-13, 1960 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 11 – Dec. 13, 1960
> Region most affected: The Northeast
> Notable snowfall: 20.4 inches (Newark, NJ)

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Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. New Year’s Eve 1963 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 31, 1963 – Jan. 1, 1964
> Region most affected: The Southeast
> Notable snowfall: 17.1 inches (Huntsville, AL)

Source: Public Domain

6. December 4-5 ice storm
> Duration: Dec. 4 – Dec. 5, 1964
> Region most affected: Massachusetts and New York
> Notable snowfall: 1.5 inches of ice (Eastern New York)

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7. December 23-25, 1966 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 23 – Dec. 25, 1966
> Region most affected: Eastern Pennsylvania and New York, New Jersey, Vermont
> Notable snowfall: 29 inches (Parts of Eastern New York)

Source: Bettmann / Getty Images

8. Post Christmas Snowstorm of 1969
> Duration: Dec. 25 – Dec. 28, 1969
> Region most affected: New England
> Notable snowfall: 44 inches (Waitsfield, VT)

Source: Public Domain

9. 1971 Thanksgiving snowstorm
> Duration: Nov. 24 – Nov. 25, 1971
> Region most affected: The Northeast
> Notable snowfall: 22.5 inches (Albany, NY)

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Source: Allison St. Claire/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/X-29024

10. 1982 Christmas Eve snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 24 – Dec. 25, 1982
> Region most affected: Colorado
> Notable snowfall: 24 inches (Denver, CO)

Source: Matthew Rutledge / Flickr

11. The Post-Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1985
> Duration: Nov. 28 – Dec. 2, 1985
> Region most affected: Midwest and northern plains
> Notable snowfall: 30 inches (Marquette, WI)

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Source: Photograph Courtesy of The Hanby

12. 1987 Thanksgiving Day Storm
> Duration: Nov. 26, 1987
> Region most affected: Upstate New York and New England
> Notable snowfall: 20 inches (Flagstaff Lake, ME)

Source: Photo by Barbara Alper / Getty Images

13. 1989 Thanksgiving Day Storm
> Duration: Nov. 23, 1989
> Region most affected: Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England
> Notable snowfall: 14 inches (Cape Cod)

Source: NOAA

14. 1989 Christmas Coastal Snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 22 – Dec. 24, 1989
> Region most affected: The Carolinas
> Notable snowfall: 15.3 inches (Wilmington, NC)

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Source: YouTube

15. December 10-13, 1992 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 10 – Dec. 13, 1992
> Region most affected: Northeast and mid-Atlantic
> Notable snowfall: 48 inches (Savoy, MA)

Source: Photo by Chris Hondros / Newsmakers / Getty Images

16. The Blizzard of 2000
> Duration: Dec. 30 – Dec. 31, 2000
> Region most affected: New York, New Jersey, parts of New England
> Notable snowfall: 23.3 inches (Summit, NY)

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Source: Centers46 / Wikimedia Commons

17. Great Christmas Eve Snow Storm
> Duration: Dec. 24 – Dec. 25, 2004
> Region most affected: Texas
> Notable snowfall: 13 inches (Brazoria, TX)

Source: Win McNamee / Getty Images

18. December 18-21 winter storm
> Duration: Dec. 18 – Dec. 21, 2009
> Region most affected: Mid-Atlantic and New England
> Notable snowfall: 23.2 inches (Philadelphia, PA)

Source: Staff Sgt. Stacy Moless / U.S. Air Force

19. The 2009 Christmas Blizzard
> Duration: Dec. 22 – Dec. 29, 2009
> Region most affected: Northern Rockies and Plains
> Notable snowfall: 15.7 inches (Osceola, NE)

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Source: Mario Tama / Getty Images

20. Christmas Blizzard of 2010
> Duration: Dec. 24 – Dec. 28, 2010
> Region most affected: Midwest, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast
> Notable snowfall: 29 inches (Staten Island, NY)

Source: Mario Tama / Getty Images

21. December 13-16, 2013 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 13 – Dec. 16, 2013
> Region most affected: Upstate New York and Northern New England
> Notable snowfall: 16.5 inches (Biddeford, ME)

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Source: NOAA

22. New Year’s 2014 Ohio snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 30, 2013 – Jan. 3, 2014
> Region most affected: Ohio and Pennsylvania
> Notable snowfall: 17.6 inches (Thomoson, OH)

Source: Anthony Quintano / Wikimedia Commons

23. Pre-Thanksgiving Day snowstorm
> Duration: Nov. 26 – Nov. 28, 2014
> Region most affected: Eastern New York and New England
> Notable snowfall: 18.4 inches (Madison, NH)

24. December 9-14, 2014 snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 9 – Dec. 14, 2014
> Region most affected: Upstate New York and Northern New England
> Notable snowfall: 27 inches (Jamesville, NY)

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25. Christmas 2017 lake-effect snowstorm
> Duration: Dec. 23 – Dec. 27, 2017
> Region most affected: Pennsylvania
> Notable snowfall: 62.9 inches (Erie, PA)

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