Franklin Fact Archive
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MONDAY MARCH 12 - THE BLIZZARD OF 1888
March is about as far removed from hurricane season as you can get, but there
was one snowstorm that so paralyzed parts of the northeastern United States
that it has gone down in history as "The Great White Hurricane." This
"Blizzard of 88"
was raging on this date back in - not 1988 - but 1888.
This storm actually started as rain in the Wilmington and Philadelphia areas,
but ended with about a foot of snow, temperatures plummeting into the teens,
and winds gusting to 60 mph. The storm was much worse to the northeast, with
more than 20 inches piling up as close as Trenton, NJ. But this storm's greatest
legacy may have been its ice, which weighed down and
toppled communication lines,
literally cutting off many cities from the outside world.
In fact, much of the telegraph system
in New York City was demolished.
More than any other event, it was this storm that popularized the
practice of burying communication lines instead of placing them above ground.