Do You Remember... The 'Heart Attack Snowstorm'?

Posted: December 1, 2017, 11:53 am by nwiles

30 years ago this month, a massive storm system impacted the central United States. This system spread a path of snow from New Mexico all the way into Ontario, Canada. What would forever be known as Chicago’s ‘heart-attack’ snowstorm not only caused at least 26 deaths in the Chicago area but also took several lives and injured hundreds in Arkansas and Tennessee as a tornado shredded through the region.

The massive storm system, which took shape over Texas on December 13, 1987, underwent a rapid intensification process known as bombogenesis as it moved into the Midwest on the night of December 14th. The barometer dropped three-quarters of an inch in six hours over Chicago as the storm continued to strengthen. Wind gusts in excess of 60 mph were observed as the storm produced blizzard conditions and snowfall rates around 2 inches per hour. O’Hare Airport even closed for several hours.

The storm continued to lift northward, sending snow into parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. The lake effect machines then kicked on as the system redeveloped over the Gulf of Maine. When all was said and done, El Paso, TX recorded nearly two feet of snow. This was accompanied by record-setting cold. The foot of heavy, wet snow that fell around Chicago led to numerous heart attacks from strenuous shoveling (leading to the storm’s colloquial name). Several inches of snow fell across the Northeast and northern New England as the system pushed out on December 16th. Overall, this was a powerful storm that left a lasting impact. Do you remember it? 

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