Winter Storms
Credit: Creative Commons

You’re probably wondering if the extreme temperatures we’ve been seeing in many parts of Canada are normal.

Well, let's have a look at some of the worst recorded snowstorms throughout history:

  • 1275 to 1300: The Little Ice Age brought extreme cold temperatures to Europe and North America, caused by volcanic ash blocking out the sun.
  • February-March of 1717: A series of four storms hit New England and added up to 10 feet of snow, with snowdrifts reportedly reaching 25 feet. Roads between New York and Boston were blocked for weeks.
  • Winter of 1783: In England, it was called the Great Frost, when the temperature went as low as 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-16 degrees Celsius).
  • March of 1888: Four feet of snow fell in Connecticut and Massachusetts and three-and-half feet New York and New Jersey. Two-hundred ships sank during the storm and 400 people were killed.
  • November of 1940: A surprise blizzard hit the Midwestern U.S. with winds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) and 20-foot snow drifts. Many people died. 
  • April 17 to 29, 1967: A Southern Alberta blizzard brought 175 centimetres of snow.
  • March 4, 1971: Montreal’s worst recorded storm brought 47 centimetres of snow and winds of up to 110 km/h. Seventeen people died and 500,000 truckloads of snow were hauled out of the city.
  • January of 1978: A New England blizzard gave New York City between one and three feet of snow with wind hitting over 100 mph (162 km/h). More than 100 people died.
  • July 21, 1983: Antarctica boasts the lowest recorded temperature: -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-89 Celsius). For reference, Canada’s lowest recorded temperature was in February 3, 1947, at - 81 Fahrenheit (-63 Celsius). In the U.S., Alaska recorded -79.8 Fahrenheit (-62 Celsius) on January 23, 1971.
  • March of 1993: The “Storm of the Century” formed over the Gulf of Mexico and dropped snow that formed 35-foot drifts and hurricane-force winds reaching 120 mph (193 km/h) across 26 states in America.
  • January of 1998: A major ice storm struck Ontario and Quebec. Approximately 100 millimetres of ice accumulated in five days of freezing rain. It cost $3 billion to clean up after the storm.
  • January 14 to 15, 1999: Toronto called in the armed forces to help deal with a snowstorm that dropped over a metre of snow.
  • February 11, 1999: 145 centimetres of snow fell in Tahtsa, a remote town in northern British Columbia, in just one day.
  • February 18 to 19, 2004: A storm nicknamed “White Juan” dumped 50 to 70 centimetres of snow on Nova Scotia; winds reached 60 to 80 km/h, gusting to 120 km/h.
  • February of 2012: Temperatures in parts of Europe dropped to -38.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-39.2 Celsius) along with record snowfall, causing 824 deaths.

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