100 Year Snowstorm


January 1916

Folklore and tall tales aside, the most bountiful snowstorm recorded on Puget Sound was in late January and early February of 1916. On February 1, Tacoma and Seattle experienced their maximum 24 hour snowfall. Over several fridgid days four feet of the white stuff fell in Tacoma and the city pretty much came to a complete halt. Hard narrow tires on the few automobiles in town kept them off all but the flatest roads. Only the cable car loop running up and down 11th and 13th kept people moving downtown but as the snow piled up, with some wind driven drifts reaching five feet high, shopkeepers couldn’t open, schools closed and it was easiest just to stay home. With two feet on the ground and daytime temperatures below freezing it began snowing hard on the late Monday afternoon of February first and by the same time Tuesday 21 inches more fell over the city. In Seattle the snow load collapsed the massive dome on St. James Cathedral and in Tacoma Union Station went the entire period with no arrivals or departures (the dome did fine). Now a century ago, the winter of 1916 was not our coldest but when it comes to lowland snow it was certainly a hundred year event. Which means, by my calendar, that this year might just…..


1 comment

  1. We had two of these “blizzards” in Seattle in 1969. Probably Tacoma too. Amazing and unforgettable. I don’t remember the statistics but I’d say at least 1 foot and maybe 2 feet of snow would be possible. Also, zero degree temps. No snow plows. Only goofy people like us slip sliding through the lovely powder snow in our Datsun.


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