‘The Great White Hurricane’ paralyzed New Jersey in 1888
On March 11th, 1888, one of the worst snowstorms hit New Jersey with the snow lasting until the 14th, according to the book On This Day in New Jersey History. The storm was known as “The Blizzard of ’88” and the “The Great White Hurricane.”
It hit the east coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, with snowfall totals as high as 50 inches in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The highest recorded snowfall in New Jersey was 25 inches in Union County although unconfirmed reports were as high as 40 inches and, with winds of 45 miles per hour, drifts as high as 50 feet were observed. Forty people drowned at sea and bodies were being discovered in snow drifts in Jersey City for days after the storm ended.
The railroad was shut down and there were reports of people being trapped in their homes for as much as a week. Up and down the East Coast, 400 people died and with telegraph communication out, cities in the Northeast were cut off from the rest of the country. Since fire stations were snowed in, an estimated $25 million in damages were just because of fires. Many major municipalities placed their telegraph and telephone wires underground to avoid a repeat of the effects of the storm.
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