With massive, newsworthy snowfall affecting much of the world, we turn to history to compare our current weather misery with some of the worst winter weather ever recorded. Here are the top 10 deadliest blizzards in history, in order of death toll.
10. Blizzard of 1978
The Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 was one of two massive blizzards to severely affect the United States (the other, the Great Blizzard of 1978, killed 51 people in Ohio) during that year. The 2 day blizzard hit parts of New England particularly hard, with Boston, MA and Providence, RI recording more than 27 inches of snow. Roughly 100 people died, and 4,500 were injured.
9. Kazakh Blizzard
In 1995 the country of Kazakhstan was pummeled by a massive blizzard, regarded one of the worst natural disasters of all time. Approximately 112 people lost their lives.
8. China Blizzard
The 2008 Chinese winter storms were a series of major winter storms that hit China from late January through early February. Heavy snow, icing, and severely cold temperatures plagued the country, causing massive damage and disruptions, and resulting in 129 deaths.
7. Armistice Day Blizzard
In 1940 the Midwest of the United States was slammed by a 1,000 mile wide blizzard that cut a deadly path from Kansas to Michigan. Although its first day, November 11th, began as a warm day, everything went wrong – rapidly. Low temperatures, high winds, rain, sleet, and finally snow hammered the region. 145 people died.
6. Hakkōda Mountains incident
The 1902 Hakkōda Mountains incident in Japan saw a large group of Japanese soldiers trapped on a mountain range. Of the 210 soldiers engaging in military training exercises in the mountains, 199 died in the fierce blizzard conditions.
5. Storm of the Century
The Storm of the Century, a 1993 blizzard that slammed the East Coast of North America, killed 318 people. It stretched from Canada to Central America, with the worst of its wrath situated along the East Coast of the United States and in Cuba. Hurricane-force winds and tornadoes accompanied the monster storm.
4. Great Blizzard of 1888
1888 was an eventful year for blizzards in the United States. 40-50 inches of snow fell in parts of the Middle Atlantic and New England regions. 45 mph winds created snow drifts up to 50 feet tall. Approximately 400 people were killed.
3. Schoolhouse Blizzard
January of 1888 brought a particularly devastating blizzard to the plains states of the United States. It had been a fairly warm day when the blizzard arrived unexpectedly. It earned its name from dumping snow on children who were attending school in one-room schoolhouses. Driving winds reduced visibility to zero and approximately 500 people died from hypothermia.
2. Afghanistan Blizzard
The 2008 Afghanistan Blizzard hit the country hard in February, with temperatures plummeting as low as -30 C. 926 people lost their lives, as well as 100,000 sheep and goats, and 315,000 cattle.
1. Iran Blizzard
The 1972 Iran Blizzard was responsible for the deaths of approximately 4,000 people. During the blizzard, a week of low temperatures and wintry storms saw 3 meters of snow dumped across the country.