A March Snow-Storm 1880

The touch of winter which greeted this city yesterday

The snow-storm of yesterday was one which should have come in the Winter rather than in the Spring. It was the worst of this season, which, however, is not saying much. It was remarkable chiefly because of its lateness. It started in the North-west regions on Wednesday morning, and traveling east, reached this City about 5 o'clock yesterday morning. It was of immense extent, crossing the whole of the United States and the Canadas. There was not much wind until it crossed the lakes on its eastward journey. About four hours after it had descended upon New York the wind began to increase in velocity, and from 9 a.m. till noon yesterday the increase continued, the maximum velocity being 31 miles per hour, equal to a pressure of about five pounds to the square inch. It was north-east to east, very variable. At 7:30 yesterday morning, New York time, the temperature in the storm area varied from 10 degrees below zero, at Pembina, to 64 degrees above, at New Orleans.

In this City the mercury was several degrees below the freezing point, and at 2 P.M. it was still at 27 degrees. About this time it was supposed that the storm-centre was passing New York. From New York northward, snow fell; south of this latitude rain. The largest rain-fall was in Georgia; at Augusta, 1.53 inches fell. The deepest fall of snow was in Michigan, 10 inches falling at Marquette. In this City, 2 inches of snow had fallen by 4 P.M., at which hour, the storm-centre having passed, the violence of the storm had abated. The snow, from falling in large flakes, had thinned off to a shower of fine particles. Cautionary signals had been displayed along the Atlantic coast from an early hour in the morning, and at 12:45 an order same from the Washington office to display a special signal on the Equitable Building, in this City, warning vessels not to go out as the storm might continue.

The effect of the storm on travel in the City was to almost put a veto on heavy work in the lower part of the City. It was interesting to note how in those streets which are at other times crowded with trucks and wagons, and thundering with the noise of their passing, there was only one truck to be seen where there should have been 10, and the thick coating of snow on the roadway muffled the wheels, which gave no sound except the creaking on their axles. A strange silence marked these thoroughfares. Around the docks trucks unused for the day were to be seen in large numbers. Little was moving except what pressing necessity compelled. The ferries ran as usual, because, though the air was thick, it was not so much so as to impede navigation to any extent. The car companies did not begin to double up their teams till the afternoon. Between 3 and 4 o'clock spike teams on the Broadway stages began to appear, and the cars coming down town came with four horses.

 The track-sweepers were out on some of the roads, but not generally at this time. The mails were not delayed at all. The wheeling was bad, and one outgoing morning mail had missed the train at the Grand Central Depot. After this the wagons were started earlier, and there was no more missing. Trains were coming into the depot up to midnight on time, but the Post Office people did not expect that the night trains would escape delay and obstruction on the route.

Around the markets the storm very seriously interfered with business. The marketmen said that there was no difficulty in getting all the stuff into the markets, but a good deal in getting it away. There was nobody out to buy, "and I don't blame them," added one marketman who reported no sales. Altogether, it was a time to make people who had to travel appreciate the benefits of the elevated roads. They ran uninterruptedly, but it was noticeable that, with snow on the tracks, the engineers ran their trains around the curves with more than usual caution.

When the snow ceased falling, soon after 5 o'clock, the register in the office of the United States Signal Service Department indicated a depth of three inches. The afternoon reports from out of town showed that the weather was growing colder in the West, the thermometer indicating as follows: Fort Garry, 4 degrees, and Breckenridge, Minn., 3 degrees below zero; Cheyenne, 7 degrees; St. Paul, 20 degrees; Albany, 19 degrees above, a decline of nearly 10 degrees in the last 24 hours. The indications are that the weather will be clear and warmer today.

From 8 to 10 inches of snow fell on Staten Island, and a high wind drifted it in the roads so as to seriously impede travel. The horse-cars on the Shore Railroad suspended their trips early in the day, and the trains on the Staten Island Railroad were all behind time.


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: A March Snow-Storm 1880
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Times March 12, 1880
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