Biggest Blizzards in History: How Does Winter Storm Stella’s Snow Forecast Compare?


Where does Winter Storm Stella rank compared to other blizzards and winter storms in U.S. history? Meteorologists are predicting that Winter Storm Stella might be one of largest we’ve seen, although these can sometimes be tricky to predict. We don’t yet know what the final snowfall totals are going to be, but predictions for some areas are as high as two feet. This could definitely put Stella among the top in her category. We’ll update this story as more exact snowfall totals are available.

Largest Blizzards and 24-Hour Snowfalls in U.S. History

The strength of blizzards can be measured in terms of the amount of snow dropped in a day, the damage left behind,  or the number of people who died. The Great Blizzard of 1888, for example, killed more than 400 people. In 1993, the “Storm of the Century” was a blizzard/cyclone combined and left $6.6 billion in damage, according to Livescience.

But focusing solely on snowfall totals in a 24-hour period, these are the biggest storms in U.S. history, according to

  • Feb. 9, 1963: Valdez, Alaska saw 78 inches of snow in 24 hours thanks to a winter storm in the Gulf of Alaska.
  • April 14-15, 1921 – Silver Lake, Colorado saw 75.8 inches (6.3 feet) in a day in the Rockies.

We can safely say that Winter Storm Stella won’t likely come close to the top snowfall records in U.S. history. But what about top snowstorm totals in a state? Here are the numbers:

  • Delaware: 25 inches on February 18, 2003
  • Rhode Island: 42 inches on Feb. 7, 1978
  • Virginia: 47 inches on Jan. 7, 1996
  • New Jersey: 52 inches on Feb. 5, 1961
  • Maryland: 54 inches on March 15, 1993
  • Connecticut: 55 inches on Feb. 5, 1961
  • Pennsylvania: 60 inches on March 22-23, 1958
  • West Virginia: 62 inches on March 8, 1978
  • Massachusetts: 62 inches on Jan. 13, 1996
  • Maine: 84 inches on Feb. 28, 1969
  • New York: 119 inches in the Adirondacks on April 20, 1943
  • Vermont: 149 inches on Mount Mansfield, April 2, 1969
  • New Hampshire: 164 inches on Mount Washington on Feb. 27, 1969

Weather forecasts predict Winter Storm Stella will bring in 18 to 24 inches tops in most places, but less in many areas. So the likelihood that any of these records will be broken is slim-to-none. However, the storm might break some more localized records. See below for more.

Largest Blizzards in New York City vs. Stella

According to the National Weather Service, the biggest snowstorms in Central Park since 1869 were the following:

Current predictions, according to, put New York City as receiving somewhere between 17 to 24 inches of snow from Stella. If the ranking is on the higher end, Stella might end up in the top five.

Largest Blizzards in Boston vs. Stella

Meanwhile, Boston has a pretty impressive history too. In March, the greatest snowfall totals in Boston were:

  • March 19, 1956: 13.2 inches
  • March 13, 1993; 12.3 inches
  • March 4, 1891: 12 inches

But the biggest late-season snowstorm in Boston was in April 1, 1997 with 22.4 inches (other sources place the number above 25 inches.)

Back in 2015, WBUR looked at the top snowstorms in Boston’s history, regardless of time of year. These were the top five:

  • Feb. 17-18, 2003: 27.6 inches
  • Feb. 6-7, 1978: 27.1 inches
  • Feb. 24-27, 1969: 26.3 inches
  • March 31-April 1, 1997: 25.4 inches
  • Feb. 8-9, 2013: 24.9 inches

Boston is expecting 12 to 18 inches of snow from Winter Storm Stella, according to Although this wouldn’t place Stella in the top 5 historically, it might place Stella at the top for March snowstorms.