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The Storm of the Century - 1950

This nor'easter affected nearly two dozen states over Thanksgiving in 1950.

George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

This nor'easter was a big one, affecting nearly two-dozen states in the eastern U.S. Before it spat its last snowflake, the Storm of the Century in November 1950 prompted a spate of all-time record low temperatures, caused widespread flooding from New Jersey northward, killed more than 300 people and resulted in $70 million in storm damage [source: NOAA]. Still, it was the hurricane force winds and heavy snowfall that lingers in most survivors' memories.

In Ohio, for example, the Thanksgiving weekend storm dropped up to 33 inches (84 centimeters) of snow that drifted into peaks, thanks to winds reaching as high as 60 miles per hour. Although fans and players still managed to muscle their way through an Ohio State versus Michigan football game in a Columbus, Ohio, stadium, the snow caused most activities to grind to a halt. Buildings were collapsing under the weight of the snow and bulldozers were used to clear the streets. Even the Ohio National Guard stepped in to transport people to hospitals or deliver emergency rations to those who were snowbound [source: Ohio Historical Society]. In other states, such as West Virginia, more than 62 inches (157 centimeters) of snow was reported.

And most people never saw it coming. Forecasting methods of the day were manual, often left to the devices and conjecture of individual meteorologists. No one, not even those creating the weather outlooks, predicted how damaging the storm would be -- and weren't able to warn people about it, either. As a result, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction was created; the information collected from the November 1950 storm is still used today. In 1993, it helped warn others of another monster storm, also dubbed "Storm of the Century" [source: Pickhardt].

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