Great Blizzard of 1888

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A picture of the roads - men of the oddest costumes dug the path clear in New York City

The Great Blizzard of 1888, Blizzard of 1888, Blizzard of 88' is a historic winter blizzard of great severity in the Atlantic coast in the United States. Referred to the "The Great White Hurricane," it caused paralyzing damage to the East Coast.[1] This blizzard, also known as the Great White Hurricane had a downfall of 30 feet of snow. The blizzard produced 30-50 feet (9.144 m) of snow with 60 feet (18.288 m) high of snowdrifts. The storm eventually resulted in communication and transportation issues.

First beginning in New York City, this storm devastated the Atlantic coast from Chesapeake Bay to Maine. Being the first city to be hit, it received the most severe impact of the storm.

The weather in New York City was mildly warm for Winter when people were thinking of Spring.[2] This storm first began in the East coast on March 11, 1888 as light rain then slowly it transformed into heavy snow burying the city in 30 feet of snow. The storm gradually turned into snow as the icy rain lowered the temperature of the area, then turning into a historic blizzard causing destruction.


This major storm paralyzed the East coast of the United States and the bottom-Atlantic of Canada causing ships to sink, immobilizing all methods of transportation, 400 people lost their lives, extreme snow drifts, methods of communication via electricity such as telegrams and telephones were cut off, severe mysterious injuries, animal freezes, millions of property damage and more resulting in after two weeks of the storm.

Even after the storm ended, the impact was severe causing slow proceedings of improvement due to the great impact it had on the city. Transportation deeply depended on horses, railroads and some on streetcars making it technically impossible due to the large amounts of snow.

Because of this blizzard, Boston decided to make a subway system to prevent great loss from storms and began to create this subway in 1895. The Boston Globe was one of the few who had the first telephone making it the only news or communication of current events company to be able to communicate to the outer world.


New York Herald - Blizzard of 1888.jpg

The temperature of the storm was below zero even though the temperature was mildly warm for the season caused by the wind and the rain turning into snow turning into a blizzard. The storm resulted in the burying of many people, animals, vehicles, and other materials in the snow. Police and firefighters were out in the blizzard with sleighs aiding the fallen. With winds of 45 miles per hour the storm brought snowdrifts causing low visibility. The storm lasted two days starting on Sunday, March 1888 ending on Monday March 1888 with temperature decreasing gradually as the storm proceeded from rain to snow though impacting the city for more than two weeks.


Images of the blizzard.


  1. Christiano, G. J. “The Blizzard of 1888; the Impact of This Devastating Storm on New York Transit.” The Blizzard of 1888; the Impact of This Devastating Storm on New York Transit,
  2. “Mass Moments.” Mass Moments: Coast Guard Cutter Collides with Navy Submarine,