Snow may be piling up on the sidewalks as we speak, but we won’t likely be seeing more than they did in December of 1947, when a blizzard dumped 26.4 inches of snow on New York City. According to NYC.gov, “the City was paralyzed when the blizzard barreled its way through, stranding cars and buses in the streets, halting subway service, and claiming 77 lives.” It took $6 million, nearly 30,000 workers, and weeks of digging and plowing to get the city moving again (you can watch a video showing what 99 million tons of snow does to a city of eight million people, ahead). But there’s nothing unseasonal about a mid-March blizzard. In fact, the record for most snow to fall in a day was set on March 12th of 1888, when 16.5 inches piled up in Central Park.
If you peruse a little meteorological history, you’ll see that March really does manage a roar when it comes to snowstorms. Ephemeral New York tells of the March megablizzard that caught the city by surprise, following 40-degree temps and an overall warm winter (sound familiar?). The forecast predicted light rain. On Monday, March 12, 1888, “the city went into its gas-lighted rooms and its heated houses, and its parlors and beds tired, wet, helpless, and full of amazement,” according to the New York Sun on March 13, after being hammered by the “White Hurricane” that killed about 200 people, struck down power lines, paralyzed streetcars and trolleys, and left deep mounds of snow on a winter-weary city.
The National Weather Service agrees that March is no time to let down your guard–or put away your shovel.