Tuesday, 22 December 2009


More than 80 people have died in Europe because of the snowstorms of the last few days. More than 40 – mainly homeless – have frozen to death in Poland, and 27 in the Ukraine.

A restaurant owner in Krakow provided free hot meals for homeless people in the town’s beautiful main square as temperatures dropped to -20 in some places. Across the Atlantic at least five people have died as Washington’s Reagan National Airport was buried under a record 16 inches (40cm) of snow.

Two of America’s worst ever blizzards struck in 1888. In January, more than 230 people perished across the Great Plains (see my blog of Jan 12). Two months later, New York City was hit in the middle of what had been its mildest winter for 17 years.

What became known as the “Great White Hurricane” paralysed the east coast of the United States from Chesapeake Bay to Maine. Up to 60 inches (150 cm) of snow fell in some places, and winds of 50 mph (80 kph) created drifts up to 50 feet (125 cm) deep. An estimated 400 people died, including 100 in New York City. For the full story see A Disastrous History of the World.

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