The 2010 winter storm that affected the DC area was nicknamed Snowmageddon due to the amount of snow that covered the entire region. This winter weather event was extreme, but it isn’t isolated. There have been frequent winter storms in recent years as well as unusual winter weather events.

It seems that winter weather keeps getting worse every year. The Snowmageddon that affected the DC area in 2010 is one of the most severe winter storms in recent history, but severe snowfall has been a constant every year since then. This phenomenon isn’t limited to North America.

A Brief History of Severe Snow Storms In The U.S.

Snow Storm


One of the deadliest snowstorms in recorded history dates back to 1888. Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York experienced a blizzard and severe snow drifts.

This event is one of the worst blizzards in recorded history with a death toll of 400.

The Knickerbocker Storm affected Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania in January of 1922. The wet and heavy snowfall caused significant property damage.

The Super Bowl blizzard affected most of the U.S. in 1975. This severe weather event started with tornadoes in the Southeast. The tornadoes were followed by a snow storm in the Midwest. There were 45 separate tornadoes that caused damage in the Southeast.

The Storm of the Century is another deadly winter weather event in recent history. A blizzard and cyclone merged in March of 1993 and caused $6.6 billion in damages in Cuba and North America.

Snowmageddon caused two feet of snow falling on the DC area. The major storm was the results of two systems merging in February of 2010.

Snow Storms Across The Globe

person in the road during snowfall


Severe winter weather events aren’t limited to North America. Other continents have been affected by blizzards, severe snowfalls, and storms.

Argentina experienced a severe snow storm in 2007. The following year saw a series of severe storms affect China as well as a deadly blizzard in Afghanistan.

Most of Europe was covered by heavy snowfalls in 2009 and 2010. In more recent history, a cyclone caused severe snowfall in England, Belgium, and some parts of Germany in January of 2018.

Unusual Snowfall



Severe snowstorms aren’t the only unusual winter weather event we have seen over the past few years. There have been several instances of early snow falls across the U.S.

There was an unusually early snowfall in October of 2010 in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Duluth got almost eight inches of snow.

The following year, Pennsylvania and Maine were affected by a snow storm in late October. Some areas in New Hampshire saw more than 30 inches of snow.

The superstorm Sandy was responsible for early snowfall across the country in 2012. This weather event caused more than three feet of snow in the Appalachians in late October.

Some areas in Pennsylvania and North Carolina saw a foot of snow. This wet and heavy snow was enough to cause some property damage.

The High Plains and Rockies were affected by 70 mph winds and heavy snowfalls in October of 2013. This is an area where early snowfalls can happen, but this severe storm was unusual since it happened between October 3rd and 5th. Some areas got as many as five feet of snow.

Rapid City in South Dakota got more than 20 inches of snow during this extreme weather event. This is the second most severe snowfall recorded in the city, and the fact that it happened in October is highly unusual.

These unusual winter weather events aren’t limited to North America. Early snowfalls are happening across the globe.

Snow fell for several days in the Atacama Desert in Chile in 2011. A light snowfall was observed in Kuwait in 2016 and might be the first one in the recorded history of the country.

Some areas of Hawaii experienced snowfall in June of 2016, and the first snowfall in Guadeloupe’s recorded history occurred that same year.

The city of Rome experienced its heaviest snowfall since the mid-1980s in February of 2012.

What Is The Impact Of These Weather Events?

Snow storm during night time


The typical impact of a winter storm includes power outage, tree damage, and road closures. Transportation accidents are a common side effect of extreme weather conditions.

The impact of a winter storm varies since some areas are more prepared than others. For instance, the 2012 heavy snowfall that affected Rome wasn’t something the city was prepared for.

This winter weather event resulted in more than 30,000 homes losing power. Schools and offices had to be closed, and the city’s activities were severely disrupted for days.

An early snowfall can also have a severe impact. Snow falling in October might take weather forecasting services by surprise.

The storm that affected South Dakota and Wyoming in early October of 2013 had disastrous consequences for rangers. Thousands of cattle animals were lost since weather forecasting services failed to identify this upcoming weather event.

A major storm like the Snowmageddon that affected the DC area in 2010 resulted in schools and offices being closed for as long as a week. More than 200,000 people lost power in the DC metro area. The wet and heavy snow also caused a hangar to collapse at Dulles Airport.

Unfortunately, human casualties sometimes occur during these extreme weather events. The tornadoes and blizzard of 1993 were one of the deadliest weather events in recent history. A total of 318 people lost their lives, with some of them being casualties of shipwrecks as the event progressed towards North America.

The blizzard that affected Afghanistan in 2008 was extremely deadly as well. More than 900 people lost their lives as a result of hypothermia and pneumonia. The blizzard was unexpected and severely affected rural communities. It also resulted in a crisis for the communities that lost their livestock animals.

In the U.S., it is estimated that winter storms caused a total of 571 deaths between 1966 and 2011 without taking transportation accidents into consideration.

A majority of deaths linked to extreme winter weather are linked to transportation accidents. There is a risk of dying from hypothermia if one is directly exposed to a storm. This risk is high among the homeless population and in rural communities in developing countries.

Falling trees and collapsing building are another cause of human casualties during storms.

How Much Does A Snow Storm Cost?

road after heavy snowfall


Snow removal is a significant cost associated with snow storms. The city of Boston had to spend an estimated $30 million on snow removal in 2010. The extreme winter weather of 2010 cost between $1 and $2 billion across the U.S.

A total of 15 percent of insurance claims for catastrophe losses of vehicles, homes, and businesses were linked to extreme winter weather in 2014. That same year, winter weather cost about $3.7 billion in losses, and a total of $1.4 billion in losses wasn’t insured.

Property damage is more likely to occur in areas that typically don’t get heavy snowfalls. The structures aren’t designed to withstand the weight of significant snowfall. Property damage is also more likely to occur when the snow is wet and heavy.

Extreme winter weather typically results in money being spent to repair power lines and remove damaged trees. Roof damage is the most common expense linked to winter weather for homeowners.

A storm can also cost money by making roads difficult to travel. This means some businesses can’t open, some employees won’t be able to go to work, and fewer shoppers will be out. An area that relies on tourism for its economy can be severely affected if transportation is limited.

Storms also have an environmental impact that can’t be measured in financial terms since damaged trees aren’t always replaced.

Can We Expect More Severe Winter Storms In The Future?

heavy snow storm


Scientists believe that the Arctic sea ice melting increases air humidity. This is causing more frequent and heavier precipitation. This could be one of the reasons why some regions are seeing more frequent snow falls or experiencing snowfall earlier than usual.

Rising ocean temperatures could be another factor that is indirectly causing these storms. El Niño is a weather phenomenon that affects the equatorial Pacific region. It is characterized by the formation of a band of warm ocean appears.

This warm water causes the atmospheric temperature to go up, which also increases the atmospheric pressure. The effects of this phenomenon aren’t entirely predictable and vary from one year to the next. However, some studies have found a correlation between the observation of this phenomenon in the Pacific and severe snowstorms in the Eastern U.S.

Scientists are tracking this phenomenon, and so far, the ocean water temperature hasn’t significantly increased. This could mean that the 18-19 season won’t bring any significant winter weather events. However, scientists believe that this phenomenon returns every five years or so.

It is likely that the increase in air humidity will result in more frequent and heavier precipitations across the globe in the future, which means snow could appear in more areas and more regions could experience severe winter storms.

It seems that severe winter weather has been affecting North America regularly these past few years. Europe and China have also been affected, and some regions have also been experiencing unusual winter weather events such as early snowfalls or snowfalls in areas that usually don’t get any snow.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This