Jan 3, 2014
11:07 AM
History

Wicked Winter Storms From Connecticut's Past

Wicked Winter Storms From Connecticut's Past

Courtesy of Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries/ Southern New England Telephone Company Records

Digging out from the Blizzard of 1888 in New Haven.

Editor's note: This story was originally published at the beginning of January.

Only a few days into 2014 and we're already dealing with a major winter storm—seems like we still haven't even finished digging out from last year's blizzard!

Well, that comes with living in a place where it has snowed pretty much every winter for the past 50,000 years or so. Of course, some winter storms have been more notable than others, and three really come to mind: The blizzards of 1888, 1978 and 2013.

According to Connecticut History Online, the Blizzard of 1888 "took people by surprise, and many were unprepared for the resulting isolation and destruction. Snow was measured in Connecticut between twenty and fifty inches, but high winds caused snowdrifts up to twenty feet in several areas. In one twenty-four hour period, thirty-one inches of snow fell in New Haven with forty-five inches as the total by the end of the storm." The storm caused $20 million in damage at the time (about $500 million today), and killed more than 400 people along the East Coast. (Visit Connecticut History Online for some great local photos.)

 

"Stereoview picture of Grand Street in New Britain, Connecticut, published by F. W. Allderige in 1888, illustrating the height of snow left two days earlier during the March 11th Blizzard of 1888." (Wikimedia Commons)

The Stamford Historical Society has some great information about this storm, which was also known as "The Great White Hurricane," including these excerpts from the March 16, 1888 edition of the Stamford Advocate:

"...By 10 'clock Sunday night the storm increased , and took the character of a "Dakota" blizzard. The air was so filled with particles of fine snow that even after day-break Monday morning one could scarcely see a distance of seventy-five feet. There was no intermission in the fury of the wind or the fall of the snow all day Monday nor during the night, nor in fact until day-break Tuesday morning when there was a subsidence of both wind and snow fall, though the temperature was low, reaching to ten above zero."

Business came practically to a standstill: "Milkmen gave up their routes, grocers and butchers for the time being abandoned all attempt to supply their customers, and congratulated themselves that for the most part the telephone lines were down so they could receive no orders which it was impossible to fill. The coal wagons were laid up also…"

 

"The Union House Hotel a few days after the storm. The men on horseback are: Fitch A. Hoyt, Colonel Tallmadge, and George Meeker. Observe the flag in front of Faucett's harness shop…"

One-hundred-and-ten years later In February of 1978, we had a bit more warning, which saved lives—only about 100 were killed by the massive Northeaster, which dropped more than two feet of snow over the course of two days. The entire Northeast was paralyzed by the storm, which shut down everything for days and caused $25 million in damage in Connecticut alone.

Some pics from the New Haven Register collection.

 

This message was dug out in the snow on the surface of a lake in Montville, Connecticut, Feb. 8, 1978. It asked for Gov. Ella T. Grasso's help in the state's snow emergency. The author of the message was unknown, but it got across to the governor who saw it as she flew over the lake on a helicopter tour of eastern Connecticut. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

 

A giant loader shovels a load of snow for waiting trucks as snow removal operations continued in Hartford and throughout Connecticut, Feb. 8, 1978. A monster snowstorm dumped as much as 20 inches on the state Monday and Tuesday. (AP Photo/Bob Child)

 

 

More at the New Haven Register.

And of course, there was last year's misery. In case you've forgotten already—

 

Cars buried along Maplewood Road in New Haven. (Peter Casolino)

 

A man clears snow from around his car on East Broadway in Milford on 2/14/2013. (Arnold Gold)

 

Hamden-Residents of Park Street get together to clear the road. (Melanie Stengel)

Again, more at the New Haven Register.

And one last photo, from my unplowed street in Shelton after last year's blizzard ... that black box on the left is my mailbox, which is normally three feet off the ground.

Is it spring yet?

 

Wicked Winter Storms From Connecticut's Past

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