No one expected it, and many didn’t survive it, but no one has forgotten it.
Two great storms were advancing toward New York City. Weather forecasting in 1888 was a new science, and not yet reliable. That Saturday, the staff of the US Army Signal Corps decided there was no real danger from either of the storms. At 10 p.m., the forecast for the following day said: “Fresh to brisk winds with rain will prevail, followed on Monday by colder brisk winds and fair weather throughout the Atlantic states...”
And the snow wasn’t the only danger. The forest of telegraph, telephone, and electrical poles, carrying hundreds of wires each, were at the mercy of the weather, falling over, or snapping in two. The streets were littered with thousands of poles and miles of dangerous wires, many buried as the snow continued to fall. In just over 24 hours, the Blizzard of ’88 brought the entire northeastern region of the United States to a standstill, cut off from the rest of the world in a white, frozen wilderness.