25 Worst Holiday Storms of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection

Winter Storm Elliott has wreaked havoc on travelers this Christmas, cancelling more than 5,000 flights across the country. The Great Lakes region and the Northeast have been hit with flooding, record-cold temperatures, feet of snow and blizzard conditions. The storm represents a major inconvenience for Americans at what is the busiest travel time of the year. It is, of course, not the first major storm to throw a wrench in travel plans for millions of Americans.  

Ten years ago this December, two major storms struck the United States, one after another. The first hit the mid-Atlantic and New England beginning on Dec. 18, dumping nearly 2 feet of snow on Philadelphia. Then another storm blanketed the Northern Rockies and Plains states over Christmas, finally letting up just before New Year’s Eve. The storms lead to road conditions that killed at least a dozen people and left motorists stranded. 

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and local news and weather sources to identify the worst storms to hit during the holidays. We considered all storms that occurred from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. 

In many cases, these storms dropped over 2 feet of snow. While not all of the storms on this list involved record snowfall, they were still highly disruptive and destructive, in part because they produced strong winds, dangerous and violent seas, or because they affected wide areas, in some cases more than a dozen states. Here are some of the worst blizzards of all time

Some of the storms made the list because they affected particularly vulnerable places. In some cases, this means storms directly hit and shut down major metropolises. In other cases, the storms predominantly impacted southern states that are less prepared for major snowfall events, and so the storms were more disruptive and costly. One such storm was the Christmas Coastal Snowstorm of 1989, where more than a foot of snow fell on states that are more used to major hurricanes than snow. These are the most powerful hurricanes of all time.

Click here to see the 25 worst holiday storms of all time