The US was hit by two of the five worst snowstorms in history during early 1888.
1. The Great Blizzard of 1888 (the Great White Hurricane)
March 11 – 14, 1888
Eastern United States
Snowfall of 40 to 50 inches was recorded over New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut as sustained winds created drifts as much as 50 feet tall. Total deaths are thought to have exceeded 400. Most of the cities on the eastern seaboard were shut down for days, if not weeks.
5. The Schoolhouse Blizzard (aka The Schoolchildren’s or Children’s Blizzard)
January 12, 1888
Great Plains States
This blizzard gets its name from the many schoolchildren who died when trapped in one room school houses. More than 230 are said to have died.
The tragedy of this storm was created by its suddenness, and by the warm conditions that immediately preceded it. Lulled into complacency by a balmy day, people ventured from their houses to do chores and head to town. Many were improperly dressed. Then, an arctic front crashed into moisture laden air from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing sudden drops of temperature to as low as -40 F, as well as large amounts of snow.
This was the first of two major blizzards in 1888.
The Schoolhouse Blizzard brought temperatures of -20 F as far south as the Gulf Coast, and was the only time the Colorado River in Texas has frozen over.