Expired News - Holiday disasters: The 12 storms of Christmas - The Weather Network
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There are plenty of years when Christmas was trumped by weather.
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2004: The Boxing Day tsunami

When a Magnitude 9.1 tremor cracked the earth off the tip of Indonesia’s Aceh province, on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was one of the deadliest in human history.

In all, an estimated 228,000 people perished in 13 countries, with the waves reaching in some capacity as far as east Africa. 170,000 of the dead were in Aceh, and some 1.7 million people were displaced.

It was the third largest quake since 1900, and remained the deadliest in a century until 2010, with more than 300,000 people were killed by a quake in Haiti.

Though the recovery effort has been tremendous, the disaster has left a deep scar in the consciousness of the worst-hit nations.

2004: A White Christmas in Texas

No book-keeper would take any odds on a white Christmas in Texas, but a storm in 2004 on Christmas Eve brought that incredible rarity to most of the U.S. gulf states.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

It wasn’t just a dusting on those palm trees. According to this source, 33 cm fell in the worst-hit areas of Texas and even Houston saw some snow, though only trace amounts.

Still, for drivers not accustomed to even a sprinkling of the stuff, it was enough to cause serious problems. At least three people died, and numerous people were injured in collisions.

Christmas that year would have been brutal further north. A powerful storm swept into the Ohio Valley after Christmas, lasting 30 hours and dumping more than 70 cm in the worst-hit zones.  

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

17 people were killed, and one person in Canada, to which the storm stretched, and thousands of people were injured. This paper says the total damage was in the region of $900 million. 

2001: Buffalo's incredibly snowy Christmas

Everyone in Canada watched, dumbfounded, as the city of Buffalo got hammered with days of lake-effect snow in late 2014.

As staggering as it was, people in the city have more than enough experience with that kind of weather. 

Image credit: NOAA

At Christmastime in 2001, Buffalo was the bullseye of a similar event that dropped more than 200 cm of snow over five days.

With little wind, it just kept falling, blanketing homes and highways.

Travel ground to a halt, including bus service, and the city was forced to declare a state of emergency.

Image credit: NOAA

The storm proved fatal, though not as much as the recent event. At least two people are known to have died: One who died in a car crash, another who was killed when a carport, laden with heavy snow, collapsed on him.

1987: Snow falls in Arizona

It’s possible to see snow in the deserts of the U.S. southwest, but, like the Texas gulf coast, the odds of it actually happening are astonishingly low.

So anyone who woke up in Tucson, Arizona, on Christmas Morning in 1987 to a fresh coat of snow would have counted themselves especially fortunate:

Parts of the city got around 10 cm of snow, with lesser amounts elsewhere. A great time for snowball fights. Not so great for anyone who was relying on the more than 100 km of highways that had to be temporarily shut down (we’re guessing Arizona’s snowplow fleet isn’t exactly legion).

The same system brought major flooding to Arkansas and Mississippi, with hundreds of people having to be evacuated. 

In the Arkansas town of West Memphis, the weather disaster was insult added to injury: Earlier in the month, a tornado killed six people there.

NEXT PAGE: A Christmas flood puts Oregon underwater


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