No. 9: October Nor’easter

An early and historic snowstorm hit New England in late October just before Halloween, leaving 3 million without power and facing freezing temperatures from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey were especially hard hit, with some residents without power for nearly a week.

The snow levels broke October records in New York City and several other northeast towns, with some areas getting up to 30 inches of snow. In one day, 32 inches fell in Peru, Massachusetts, while Washington, D.C., beat a 121-year-old record by 1.5 inches.

Damages and tolls:

  • In New York City’s Central Park, the heavy, wet snow killed 1,000 trees, leaving crews scrambling to clean up the mess before the New York Marathon the following weekend. Many trees throughout the Northeast that had already been weakened by Hurricane Irene did not survive the wintry blast.
  • 48 Boston-bound Amtrak passengers were stranded overnight. With power, food, and water, they fared much better than the passengers on a diverted JetBlue flight in Hartford, Conn. The 200 passengers were stuck on the tarmac with clogged toilets and no food or water for 7 hours.
  • A week after the storm, with a general election taking place, nine towns in Connecticut that were still without power had to reassign polling places so that voters would not be left in the dark.
  • The death toll is estimated at 22.

Nor’easters can be more damaging along the Atlantic coast than hurricanes, especially when snow is involved. This nor’easter may turn out to be one of the most expensive of the year, exceeding the costs related to Hurricane Irene.

Becky Uline is an editor and musician living in San Francisco, where she enjoys digging into Yahoo! data as a sidekick to trend-finding sleuth Vera H-C Chan. Most of her writing is of the musical variety for her band, the Northerlies.