The Most Extreme Nor'easters in US History

A nor’easter is storm made up of winds from the northeast that usually develops on the East Coast between Georgia and New Jersey, attaining maximum intensity near New England, according to the National Weather Service. Past nor’easters have been responsible for billions of dollars in damage, severe transportation and communication disruption and, in some cases, disastrous coastal flooding and even death.

10 photos
William Ryerson/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
South Boston residents dig their cars out of the snow on Farragut Road on Jan. 22, 1978, following a massive storm over the previous weekend.
Library of Congress
Fulton Street in downtown Manhattan after being plowed. The nor'easter that struck the Northeast in 1888 was one of the worst blizzards in American history, according to the National Weather Service, killing more than 400 people and dumping as much as 55 inches of snow in some areas.
UIG via Getty Images
A snowed-in New York City street on Dec. 26, 1947. This historic storm, dubbed The Great Blizzard of 1947, dumped record levels of snow on the northeastern United States. New York City saw over 26 inches of snow that paralyzed the city and killed 77, according to NWS.
Street cars that were out of service for several days are see lined up on Carson Street in Pittsburgh on Nov. 26, 1950. From Nov. 22 to 30, 1950, a slow-moving, powerful storm system dumped heavy snow across areas from western Pennsylvania south into West Virginia, leaving over 30 inches behind. Several locations even received more than 50 inches of snow. Coburn Creek, West Virginia, reported the greatest snowfall total — a staggering 62 inches, according to the NWS. The storm was responsible for 250 deaths, The New York Times reported.
Delaware Public Archives
This March 1962 photo shows an aerial view of Bethany Beach, Delaware. Ash Wednesday is remembered by some on the East Coast as more than a Christian holy day. In 1962, it brought the most extreme nor'easter on record to the mid-Atlantic states, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The March 1962 Ash Wednesday storm pounded the mid-Atlantic coast for nearly three days, battering the shoreline, sweeping beach homes, hotels and boardwalks into the ocean and bringing near-blizzard conditions to inland areas. (Photo courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives.)
Boston Globe via Getty Images
Falling and drifting snow surrounds a car on Morrissey Boulevard in Boston during the early morning hours of the blizzard of 1978. The historic nor'easter dumped vast amounts of snow across New England, New Jersey and the New York City area and caused widespread, near-hurricane strength wind gusts that heaped snow into enormous drifts. Hundreds of cars were stranded along state highways, millions lost power and communication lines were disconnected. The storm killed about 100 people, according to the New England Historical Society.
Press Herald via Getty Images
Dan Littlefield of Campe Ellis attempts to clear snow from his car on March 14, 1993 in Saco, Maine. "There was a car around here somewhere," he joked. The blizzard began on March 12 and wreaked havoc for two days. For the first time, every East Coast airport had shut down at some point during or after the storm hit. Parts of upstate New York and Pennsylvania received over three feet of snow, and wind gusts reached up to 89 mph on Long Island. About 270 people died from direct and indirect results of the storm, and "The Storm of the Century," as it's been called, is still ranked as the number 1 most impactful snowstorm on the NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), used to categorize snowstorms.
AFP/Getty Images
A car lies buried in the snow in Times Square during the blizzard of 1996. This nor’easter hit the Northeast Corridor on Jan. 6, as the country was getting back on track from the federal government shutdown. The powerful nor'easter unloaded 2 feet of snow from Virginia to southern New England. Philadelphia was buried by 31 inches of snow and many Steelers fans from areas east of Pittsburgh were stranded in the city after the NFL playoff game on Sunday. The storm ranks second on the NESIS scale.
Boston Globe via Getty Images
Sales people, general managers and even the owners at Expressway Motors Inc. in Dorchester, Mass., clean and move automobiles a dealership lot to clear them from snow left by the blizzard of February 2003. The snowstorm lasted from Feb. 14 to 19 and dumped 10-inch-plus of snow from Ohio to Delaware to Southern New England. Snowfall rates of up to 4 inches per hour clobbered Philadelphia. Washington's Reagan National, Baltimore-Washington, Philadelphia and New York's LaGuardia Airports were all closed. Boston also set a record snowstorm total (27.6 inches), eclipsing the total from the "Blizzard of '78."
People dig out their cars in Alexandria, Va., on Jan. 24, 2016. A slow-moving, powerful snow storm battered a swatch of the eastern United States from Arkansas to Massachusetts. The storm prompted governors from 11 states and the mayor of Washington, D.C. to declare a state of emergency. It also paralyzed commuters as more than 13,000 flights were cancelled and several cities implemented travel bans. At least 48 people died as a result of the mammoth snowstorm, according to The Associated Press.
Contact Us