North American blizzard of 1966

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The Blizzard of 1966 swept across most of the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains on January 29, 1966, and brought record low temperatures, high winds and heavy snowfall in its wake.[1] Within days, at least 142 people had been killed — 31 had frozen to death, 46 died in fires that started while people were trying to heat their home. Others died from heart attacks while shoveling snow or pushing cars, or traffic accidents caused by slick roads.[2] The death toll reached 201 by Wednesday, February 2, as the storm eased.[3]

The Blizzard of 1966
Category 4 "Crippling" (RSI/NOAA: 12.28)
January 1966 blizzard.jpg
Snowfall totals with the storm.
Winter storm
FormedJanuary 27, 1966
DissipatedJanuary 31, 1966
Maximum snowfall
or ice accretion
103 inches (260 cm) Oswego, New York

On Monday, January 31, federal government employees in Washington were excused from reporting to work [4] and international airports were closed from Boston to Washington, D.C.. 60 inches (150 cm) or 5 ft of snow fell on Oswego, New York, and the additional accumulation raised the snow level to 13 inches (33 cm) in Norfolk, Virginia.[5] By February 1, additional snow brought the level to 102 inches (260 cm) or 8 12 ft to Oswego.[6] (This held the record for the most snowfall in a single storm in Oswego until the Lake Effect snow storm of February 2007).[citation needed]

The storm began as a nor'easter, which affected the New York City metro area and was followed by heavy "wraparound" lake effect snows. Winds were more than 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) during the storm, and at Fair Haven, New York they are believed to have exceeded 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). The snow was badly drifted and roads and schools closed as long as a week. Drifts covered entire 2 story houses.

A total of 103 inches (260 cm) of snow was recorded at Oswego, 50 inches (130 cm) of this falling on the last day of the storm alone.[7] 50 inches (130 cm) of snow were also recorded at Camden, New York on the same day. The last day of the blizzard the winds subsided and snowburst conditions prevailed, with the snow falling straight down. Fair Haven did not have official snowfall records at the time, but state troopers reported measuring 100 inches (250 cm) of snow on the level, where none had been prior to the storm. Syracuse, New York received a record snowfall of 42.3 inches (107 cm) which remained their heaviest storm on record, until the Blizzard of 1993.[7]

The storm lasted from January 27 to January 31, 1966, a total of 4½ days. The daily snowfall totals for Oswego are as follows.

  • January 27, 1966: 8 inches (20 cm)
  • January 28, 1966: 12 inches (30 cm)
  • January 29, 1966: 11 inches (28 cm)
  • January 30, 1966: 21 inches (53 cm)
  • January 31, 1966: 50 inches (130 cm)

On January 22–23 of 1966, the city of Batavia and Genesee County had 2 feet (61 cm) of snow fall on that Saturday night alone. The only thing that prevented that snowstorm from becoming a true blizzard like this infamous one of the very next weekend was the lack of high winds.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Blizzard Rips Across Nation", Abilene (TX) Reporter-News", January 30, 1966, p5
  2. ^ "Blizzard's Death Toll Mounts To 142", The Morning Herald (Hagerstown MD), February 2, 1966, p1
  3. ^ "Massive Storm Eases; Death Toll Tops 200", The Pantagraph (Bloomington IL), February 2, 1966, p1
  4. ^ "BLIZZARD SNARLS EAST", Milwaukee Sentinel, January 31, 1966, p1
  5. ^ "60 Inch Snow in Oswego", Milwaukee Sentinel, February 1, 1966, p2
  6. ^ "Oswego's Once in Lifetime Snow 'Just Incredible'", Milwaukee Sentinel, February 1, 1966, p5
  7. ^ a b c "HIDDEN HISTORY: The Blizzard of 1966". Archived from the original on 2015-01-09. Retrieved 2015-09-15.

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