It Snows in March in Albany

I’ve lived in Albany, NY over thirty years now, and one of those trivia questions I like to ask relative newcomers – people who’ve only been here twenty years, e.g. – is “What are the two greatest snowstorms in recorded Albany history?”

The worst event, by far, was the Great Blizzard of 1888, during the second week in March, which dumped 45 inches (120 cm) on Albany, 22 inches (56 cm) in New York City, and huge amounts across New York State, New Jersey and much of New England. The storm and the frigid aftermath killed over 400 people in the region, and crippled the region for days afterwards.

The second worst Albany snowstorm was the 1993 Storm of the Century during the second week in March. The storm that started in the Gulf of Mexico created tornadoes that affected Cuba and the southern United States, and even dumped a foot of snow as far south as Alabama. It churned up the coast, and ended up affecting 26 US states plus eastern Canada. Albany received 26.6 inches (67.6 cm) of snow.

To the surprise of some, I do not remember the 1888 blizzard. I DO well recall the 1993 superstorm, though, for two reasons.

That Sunday, the church I belonged to at the time was closed for service, a state of emergency having been called for the area. However, I lived close enough that I could trudge over anyway. The custodian was busy using the snow blower, but it was inadequate for the task. So I grabbed a shovel and assisted; I believed there were one or two others trying to clean up as well.

The day before, the Albany Public Library was contemplating closing in anticipation of not only a stark forecast, but the reports that the storm had already caused to the south. At the time, the library was run by an autocratic fellow I’ll call Bill. He wanted to be notified about all decisions, so the staff attempted unsuccessfully to reach him.

Finally, some senior librarians took it upon themselves to close the facilities early, which turned out to be the obviously correct choice. However, they got jammed up by Bill, who was furious with their initiative. Ultimately, the bad publicity from Bill’s unjustified public pique forced him to back down. This also directly led to the creation of a librarians’ union in Albany.

As spring approaches, Albany, know that the two worst snowstorms on record happened THIS week in history.

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5 thoughts on “It Snows in March in Albany”

  1. It is funny the things we chose to remember. I must not have been conscious in 1993. I was living in Albany at the time, you and I knew each other back then (that may have been the year we met), but every time someone mentions that storm, I have no recollection. How can I have missed the “storm of the century?” I am told that we (hubby and I) dug out my car. Don’t I remember?

    ummm….no.

    I don’t remember that event, but I do remember the mundane. I remember the color of my daughter’s first bathing suit, I remember the phone number of my girlfriend who moved away when I was 7, and I remember how many steps there were in my house growing up.

    Thank goodness there are people who can remind me of events I lived
    through – even if I can’t.

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  2. I can’t even imagine what 45 inches of snow looks like on the ground. Wow! 26.6 inches is also a lot of snow. Compared to the snow days we get in school, now it seems that we really don’t deserve them unless something major (like these two storms of the cenutry) happens.

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  3. Man, I was living in Endicott when that bugger hit. Had five-year-old Riley in the car, single-mommin’ it, and our apartment was set back from the main road. My little Honda got stuck in a snow bank, and it was after work, so I wasn’t sure if I had to carry her along with all the other stuff… oy. Then, FLASH! I remembered we had just bought her a plastic sled, and it was still in the car. I said, “Let’s give it a try. I’ll be your horse, pulling your cart.” Other than the occasional, “Go faster, horsie,” it wasn’t too bad. The next night, we split the world’s largest Cadbury bar and snuggled as the snow fell. We got out the Christmas albums again and sang along.

    Times like those are heaven or hell, depending on the company! Amy

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  4. Cue the Jaws theme song……. ๐Ÿ™‚ We had 20 inches of snow in the course of one week a few weeks ago. And then there was the 2011 Snowmageddon event. But never that much in March..yet.

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