The Great Appalachian SnowStorm of 1950
Today in History. 24 – 27 November 1950. The morning before “The Great Appalachian Storm” dropped feet of snow on West Virginia, the “Beckley Post-Herald‘s” front page 1 x 2 “weather” box issued an unimaginative, run-of-the-mill forecast for the state: “Snow flurries, windy, and much colder Friday. Saturday quite cold, snow flurries likely.”
By the time Beckley’s afternoon daily, “The Raleigh Register” was delivered, the 9 am flurries turned to heavy snow. The Weather Bureau in Washington, DC issued a “special storm warning” for the state of West Virginia.
“Moderate to heavy snow this afternoon, changing to snow flurries tonight. Four to 7 inches accumulation. Cold wave tonight lowest zero to 10 above. Saturday a few snow flurries and continued very cold.”
Seemingly desperate to relay good news, Saturday morning’s forecasters set the accumulating snow to a maximum of 20 inches and “quite cold,” but to expect the storm to end in flurries that night. Mother nature’s “No can-do” attitude dismissed the weather guys, and by 6 pm that evening they issued the knockout blow for much of the Northeast.
“Heavy snow and severe drifting with strong winds tonight and Sunday over Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, extreme Western Maryland and Northwestern Kentucky.
Six to twelve inches of new snow is expected over much of this area, making a total accumulation of two to three feet in Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, extreme Western Maryland and 6 to 12 inches in Western Ohio and Northeastern Kentucky.
This is one of the heaviest snow storms on record for the Appalachian area. All roads crossing the mountains in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia are reported closed.”
By suppertime Monday, the totals varied wildly throughout the region in consequence of the extratropical cyclone‘s temperature variance.
The coal mining town of Beckley, with a population of fewer than 20,000, missed the worst of the storm; accumulating a relatively meager 9 inches of snow.
But an Armaggedon-like blizzard was recorded across West Virginia’s Allegheny Plateau near where Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia meet. From Black Friday’s first snowflake to Monday evening’s squalls, the totals were impressive. City and town totals ranged from 30 inches to 57 inches recorded in Pickens, WV. However, Coburn Creek at sixty-two inches – that’s 5′ 2″ – was gifted with an old fashion thumping of the white stuff.
The Thanksgiving Snowstorm wasn’t all about high snow totals. It carried with it hair blowing high winds; dangerously high tides, and flooding; fluctuating regional temperatures from 55 degrees to 10 below and stretched from North Carolina to Ohio and Pennsylvania up the east coast into Canada covering 22 states.
“Along the East Coast, a full-blown “nor’easter” evolved, with Newark, New Jersey, reporting a gust of 108 mph and Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, clocking a gust of 160 mph.”
On the 24th of November, an arctic air mass moved through Kentucky dropping temperatures from 40s and 50s to single digits and falling. Meanwhile, a large-scale Low was drawing insane moisture from the Mid-Atlantic and was quickly developing over North Carolina. When the frigid air collided with the North Carolina Low what remained of 22 states would be historic. In all 353 lives were lost, insurance payouts were upwards of 67 million 1950’s dollars and a benchmark for all blizzard-meets-hurricane going forward.
Hello, RedStater’s! You’ve found the watercooler. It’s RedState’s only Daily open thread. I’m sure to the 1950’s folks it seemed like the end of days. Anyone hangin’ at the ‘Cooler remember this Blizzard Behemoth?
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