Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950

Scott Jackson-Ricketts' question in the comments section about amphibian survival after premature emergence brought to mind something I'd been told about once. It's called "The Great Appalachian Storm" of 1950. Because it happened in late November, it probably had little effect on amphibians. But has it listed as number eight in their "Storms of the Century" list. Read about it here.

It began on November 25 and lasted nearly three days. It started in North Carolina and moved north, and then twisted west. Appalachian states got up to five feet of snow. The record snowfall coincided with what some meteoroligists say was the most geographically widespread windstorm ever to hit the northeast. Because the winds occurred at high tide along the coast, there was destructive flooding as well. It was 26 degrees below zero at Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. (Although I remember when the Rocky Knob ranger station on the Blue Ridge Parkway reported more than 30 below during a horrible winter in the early '80s. Grape vines at Chateau Morrissette were killed by this ferocious cold.) There were 160 deaths as a result of this one storm system.

The Great Appalachian Storm was the Hurricane Katrina of its day. It was the costliest storm ever up til that point, surpassing insurance damage claims for all hurricanes and tornadoes til then. See a pressure map of the storm here.

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