By Kevin Rate
Winter Storm Juno arrived on Jan. 26 and with it came plenty of warnings and forecasts. Forecasts were calling for the storm to affect about 13 states, from Maine to Ohio, and snowfall predictions ranging from upwards of two feet to a few inches on the edge of the storm. In response to these readings, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned travel except for emergency vehicles after 11 p.m. during the storm. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio took the time to make a statement, “We are facing, most likely, one of the largest snowstorms in the history of this city.” While it is good to prepare, in the end, New York City received about 9.8 inches, Brookhaven National Laboratory reported about 15 inches and on eastern Long Island, there were reports of over two feet of snowfall.
Was the Mayor correct in saying that Winter Storm Juno was the ‘largest snowstorm’? Simply, no. In December 2010, there was a storm that dumped about 20 inches of snow over New York City (NYC). The NYC Blizzard of 2006 saw 35 mph winds, visibility under 500 feet and about 27 inches of snow on the ground. These storms alone amounted to about double the effects of Juno in NYC. The Blizzard of 1947 left 26.4 inches of snow in Central Park in about two days. The Blizzard of 1978 saw NYC getting about 17.7 inches. The Storm of the Century, which affected states as far west as Illinois, as far east as Maine, and as far south as Alabama and Georgia spared NYC leaving about 10 inches in Central Park. The Blizzard of 1888 saw 21 inches in about two days in early March, winds reached 75 mph and snowdrifts accumulated to about 30 feet high.
Maybe it wasn’t the largest snowstorm NYC had ever seen, but what about Long Island? Same answer. Winter Storm Nemo in Feb. of 2013 pounded Long Island with about 30 inches in places like Commack and about 33 inches in Central Suffolk receiving 33.5 inches. The Blizzard of 1978 had the same promises of a historic storm and it lived up to the name. On Jan. 19th, a storm left about 13-17 inches of snow across the Island. Before the snow could melt, a nor’easter came through with forecasts calling for another 1-2 feet. Winds reached about 60-80 mph and snow came crashing down at about 4 inches an hour. Over 2 feet were reported in many areas, snowdrifts were seen as high as eight feet tall.
“It wasn’t nearly as bad (as Winter Storm Nemo), it was bad, but not that bad,” gas station owner Richard Ehlers said about the storm. “Well, yeah, it affected business, but that was expected.” Richard began to look further back and remember the storm of 1978, “now that was a big storm, (it) knocked out schools for a week, some for two.”
Hearing words like ‘historic’ and ‘blizzard’ are surely enough to create a sense of danger for people. Seeing the totals in recent years and the severity of many blizzards that have passed through NYC and Long Island, the word ‘historic’ should be used carefully. People still remember the blizzard in 1978, and if claims are made that it will be worse than that, panic is sure to come.