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The Storm of the Century!

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The Storm of the Century!

While a white Christmas may be the ideal we all dream of, few people wish for a white Thanksgiving. That’s exactly what much of the Eastern half of the United States and Canada got during Thanksgiving weekend in 1950, though.

The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950 dumped record amounts of snow over parts of the Appalachian Mountain range from November 23 through the 30th of that year. It has also been called the Great Thanksgiving Storm and even “the Storm of the Century,” and with good reason. The storm affected 22 states in all, and claimed 160 lives. It was also the most expensive storm of its time, causing $66.7 million in damage (at least $500 million in today’s dollars) and forcing insurance companies to pay out more claims than any other previous storm or hurricane.

The storm formed over North Carolina just before Thanksgiving and quickly moved north, pounding western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, and West Virginia. Several feet of snow blanketed the region, making travel impossible for nearly a week in some areas. The tri-state area received more than 30 inches of snowfall over the course of a few days, with snowdrifts 25 feet deep. Buildings collapsed under the weight, and bulldozers were brought in to clear roads for ambulances.

At the same time, an extratropical cyclone battered the entire east coast, creating hurricane-force winds of up to 160 mph. The windstorm alone was responsible for disrupting power to more than 1,000,000 homes.

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The southern edge of the storm brought record low temperatures to the Southeastern U.S. Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, reached 26 degrees below zero, and the wind chill factor made conditions even more brutal for the usually temperate region.

All-time record lows for November were set in a number of southern cities, including in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennesee, and the Carolinas, while record wind gusts were measured in New York and New Hampshire. In Canada, the storm broke Toronto’s single day snowfall record for the month of December.

So, if your area sees a little snow this Thanksgiving, just remember to be thankful. Things could always be much worse!

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1 Suzanne Allen { 01.27.15 at 2:07 pm }


2 Linda Chitwood { 12.11.14 at 9:52 am }

My mother-in-law has told of this Thanksgiving snow storm in 1950 we live in Whitley city ky the Snow I remember is Febuary 98 they told us it would be a cold rain but it turned to heavy wet snow late evening I called the weather hot line and they told me I was wrong I wasn’t getting snow it was heavy rain within 4 hours our electric was out I called them back still said we was getting rain by then had over half a foot of snow on deck trees laying over from the weight of it they finally agreed we was getting snow but it was a snow squall and would change back to rain quickly his words was no big deal well by morning over 28 inches of very wet heavy snow had fallen trees broke from the weight of it all and it was still snowing called them back he finally agreed we had snow lol we was without electric for 8 days and some of our county for 2 weeks I lost alot of my trees in my yard from all of the snow weighing them down some broke some come up from the roots so the metrologists don’t know everything about the weather that’s why i read almanac’s love them

3 Kathy { 11.20.12 at 11:42 pm }

The storm I will not forget about was on January 8, 1996. My son was actually born on January 9 the very next day. We were driving through the disaster when it first started snowing to get to the hospital. At first we were thinking “oh it wont be too bad, ive seen much worse!” I was wrong. It was so bad 4-5 inches of snow fell per hour. We and alot of other people on the roads, were STUCK! We almost slid out the road, tires were spinning and it was night!! Winds were howling and the temperatures were very very FRIGID. You could only imagine how scary it was. Did I get home? Yeah the next evening. Thats right we were stranded on the side of the road for the whole night. We were very fortunate though and im thankful to be here today. In Roanoke, Virginia a whopping 28 inches of snow fell. I was outside with snow up to my waist, Sure, I’ve been through several blizzards here but the blizzard of 1996 will be one to remember. It can get very snowy here but getting a foot or more of snow at a time isnt an everyday thing, atleast for Virginia standards. Everyone, have a great and blessed Thanksgiving!

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