With up to 50 inches of snow dumped across the northeast of the United States, this monster blizzard was aptly dubbed ‘The Great White Hurricane’. Major metropolitan areas like New York faced severe winds of up to 45 miles an hour, drifts of more than 50 feet and floods caused when the snow melted. With fire departments unable to function, the financial losses from fires alone amounted to a staggering $25 million. Human casualties totaled 400, with 200 people dying in New York alone.
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But some are concerned that this could never happen again –
Winter of 1779-80 in New Jersey
“George Washington wrote the Marquis de Lafayette on March 18th, 1780 from the Ford Mansion. “… The oldest people now living in this Country do not remember so hard a winter as the one we are now emerging from. In a word the severity of the frost exceeded anything of the kind that had ever been experienced in this climate before. ”
When the Army arrived at Jockey Hollow, there was already a foot of snow on the ground. Doctor James Thacher, whose journal is one of the best sources of first person descriptions of events during the war, wrote: “The weather for several days has been remarkably cold and stormy. On the 3rd instance, we experienced one of the most tremendous snowstorms ever remembered; no man could endure its violence many minutes without danger to his life. … When the storm subsided, the snow was from four to six feet deep, obscuring the very traces of the roads by covering fences that lined them. ” In March he wrote: “…an immense body of snow on the ground there had been four snowfalls in February and March brought six more. ”