13 vintage photos of major US snowstorms that will make you want to hibernate

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty ImagesWomen lounging in the snow after a blizzard in Washington, DC, in 1922.
  • The polar vortex is currently sweeping through and snowing on the nation. But it’s not the first of its kind.
  • The Knickerbocker Snowstorm and the Blizzard of 1949 were some of the worst in the country’s recorded history.
  • People’s cars, streets, and even homes were completely snowed in.

With the polar vortex of 2019 in full swing, we decided to take a look at the country’s past snowstorms.

Blizzards, like those in 1888, 1949, and 1978, snowed people into their cars and houses. The Knickerbocker Snowstorm in Washington, DC, led to the collapse of a famous theatre in 1922.

Here’s a roundup of 13 of the chilliest snowstorms to hit the US.


Pedestrians struggle to walk down Park Ave. and 41st Street in New York City during a snowstorm in 1900.

George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty ImagesNew York City snow storm, 1900.

According to the National Weather Service, Central Park’s coldest month to-date was February 1934, when the average temperature was 19.9 degreesFahrenheit.


Chicago (and most of the Midwest) tends to get the brunt of winter, and 1903 was no different.

Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty ImagesTwo women crossing the street during a blizzard, 1903.

Two women are using an umbrella to shield the snow in February 1903.


During a blizzard in Chicago earlier that winter, these pedestrians braved conditions down a city street.

Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty ImagesPedestrians crossing the street in Chicago, 1903.

This was a tough winter for Chicago. Heavy snow also fell in December 1903.


People began to shovel as the snow was still coming down.

Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty ImagesShoveling snow in Chicago, 1900s.

In 1912, Chicago saw 10 consecutive days with a temperature of zero degrees or lower, according to the National Weather Service.


These trolleys stalled on 4th Ave. in New York City in 1908 because the roads were covered in snow.

Buyenlarge/Getty ImagesNew York City, 1908.

One of the worst snowstorms to hit New York City happened a couple decades earlier, in 1888. Called the Great Blizzard of 1888, this storm brought 60 inches of snow and reported lty caused over 200 deaths.


These two girls were making the most of a blizzard that hit Washington, DC, in 1922.

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty ImagesWashington, DC, 1922.

DC saw one of its coldest winter days on February 11, 1899,according to the National Weather Service, when temperatures dropped down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit.


This DC storm — called the Knickerbocker Snowstorm — was one of the worst in the city’s history.

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty ImagesA car covered in snow, Washington, DC, 1922.

The Knickerbocker Snowstorm worked its way up from the southeastern US to Washington, DC, which got the most precipitation of all in January 1922. The Knickerbocker dropped 28 inches of snow on the city, and buildings and cars were covered.


The Knickerbocker got its name from the Knickerbocker Theatre in DC because the amount of snow caused the roof to cave in.

Herbert A. French/Buyenlarge/Getty ImagesPeople rushing to the scene of the Knickerbocker’s collapse, 1922.

The weight of the snow that piled up on the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre in DC caused the roof to collapse, killing 98 people and injuring 133. According to The Washington Post, all theatres in the city were closed following this catastrophe, and building inspections and codes were updated in the following years.


Ohio is no stranger to blizzards, and this one in 1930 had pedestrians fighting against the wind.

Imagno/Getty ImagesOhio blizzard circa 1930.

According to the National Weather Service, Cincinnati saw ones of its coldest days in January 1977, when temperatures reached -25 degrees Fahrenheit.


These kids were digging out a car blanketed in snow in 1947.

Walter Kelleher/NY Daily News Archive via Getty ImagesNew York City, 1947.

Another snowstorm struck New York in 1947, and these kids on 29th St. and 2nd Ave. were trying to salvage a buried car.


This house in Denver, Colorado, was buried in snow after a blizzard in 1949.

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty ImagesCleaning off buried house, 1949.

The Blizzard of 1949 is considered one of the worst on record to strike the Great Plains. Heavy snow fell consistently throughout the first week of January, and this family’s house in Colorado was completely buried.


There was so much snow in Boston in 1978, people were skiing down Revere Street.

Rachel Ritchie/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesSkiing down a street in Boston, 1978.

This blizzard, called the Blizzard of 1978, hit the northeastern part of the US in 1978. Boston was especially snowed on, and many people were stranded in their cars on the freeway mid-snowfall.

In this photo, Revere Street in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood of Boston is covered in a thick coat of snow, so much so that Bostonians were able to sled and ski down the road.


And after the Blizzard of ’78, this couple decided to take a stroll.

Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBoston, 1978.

The calm after the storm.

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