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Looking Back at New England's Longest Snowstorm: The 100 Hour Storm

The week of February 22nd to the 28th, 1969 saw one of the longest and most impactful snowstorms in New England's history. This may come as a surprise as this storm generally isn't talked about in the same way other historic winter storms in the region have been remembered.

This storm has gone down in history as "The 100 Hour Storm" as snow lasted for much of the week. Compared to other historic snowstorms, there is little information available about this storm.

A strong nor'easter worked up the northeast coast and stalled just offshore of New England. Most of the snow from this system accumulated on the four days from February 24th to the 27th. For four days straight, periods of moderate to heavy snow fell across much of New England. This led to some massive snow totals across New England and set several snow records that still stand today.

Over the course of the storm, Mt. Washington received just under 100 inches of snow, or around eight feet, which stands as by far the most snow in New England from a single storm. 49.3 inches of this snow fell on February 25th at the summit. This still stands as the most snow to fall in 24 hours in New England's history. February 1969 would go on to be the summit's snowiest month ever, with 14 feet falling from February 1-28.

The storm also led to the deepest snowpack on record in New England, which stands at 164 inches, recorded in Pinkham Notch. Pinkham Notch received 77 inches during this storm. This storm also contributed to the deepest snowpacks on record in Vermont at 149" and Maine at 84 inches.

Berlin, New Hampshire in February 1969. Credit: Conway Daily Sun

Other large totals from around New England include 38.7 inches at the Great Blue Hill Observatory in Massachusetts, 28 inches in Concord, 26.9 inches in Portland and 26.3 inches in Boston.

Overall, this storm dropped at least 30 inches of snow across a massive area of New England. In fact, over 2 million people are estimated to live in areas where 30 or more inches fell, which is, by far, the most. The "Storm of the Century" in 1993 is second on this list, with about 730,000 seeing at least 30 inches. This storm has been given a Regional Snowfall Index score of 34.03, making it the highest ranked storm in the northeast.

Among the areas most impacted by this storm was the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Several roof collapses were reported in and around the city of Berlin. This includes a warehouse, a bottling plant, a garage and, most notably, the Notre Dame Arena. A portion of the arena's roof collapsed just before a scrimmage game and tragically took the life of a teenager.

Notre Dame Arena damage after the storm. Credit: Conway Daily Sun

The storm would finally begin to decay as it pulled away on February 28th. This storm was remarkable as the storm grounded to a halt in the Atlantic. Nor'Easters can slow down as they pass New England due to blocking and strengthening, but to sit over New England for days on end is nearly unheard of.

What helped make this storm that much worse is that just a couple weeks prior, from February 8-10, another powerful nor'easter dropped a widespread 10 to 20 inches across the northeast. The 100 Hour Storm was quite literally piling on.

February 1969 in Massachusetts. Photo credit: Thomas Mullins/Hamilton Historical Society

Earlier this year, a nor'easter stalled out to the east of New England. Over the course of three days, or about 72 hours, bands of snow thrashed Nova Scotia. Amounts over the course of these three days ranged from 30 to 60 inches. This happened due to strong blocking preventing the storm from moving through the area.

While the synoptic setup for the 1969 storm isn't confirmed, it was likely a similar setup that gave Nova Scotia their intense snowfall earlier this year, just pushed a bit further to the west, closer to New England.



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