This story was originally published in Newsday on March 5, 2001
Meteorologists on television aren't known for being subtle, but even the Weather Channel's Paul Kocin was being facetious when he said the current weather system "could be the storm of the century."
With the century barely 2 months old, he admitted he wasn't really going out on a limb. "But until something better comes along," he said, "this one qualifies."
Still, Kocin said that since the system stalled further north of earlier predictions, it won't rank as one of the more severe nor'easters to ever hit Long Island. Here are some of the more worthy storms that vied for the hyperbolic "storm of the century" title in the 20th century:
January 1996-Twenty inches of snow falling over two days crippled New York City, Long Island, and much of the Northeast, causing the state to declare a state of emergency and call out the National Guard to help municipalities dig out. Long Island neighborhoods turned into ghost towns, and schools in New York City were shut for the first time since 1978. At least 23 deaths were attributed to the storm across the region.
February 1978-This 39-hour blizzard was Long Island's worst on record since Brookhaven National Lab in Yaphank began keeping records in 1947, said lab head Victor Cassella. Monitors there recorded 23 inches of snow, and 26 inches were reported elsewhere on Long Island.
February 1969-Dubbed the "Lindsay Blizzard," this storm deposited more than 20 inches of snow on Long Island and 15 inches on New York City. New York Mayor John Lindsay was assailed afterward by Queens residents for leaving their streets unplowed.
December 1960-Ten people died across the metropolitan area when 35-mph winds swept in with 17 inches of snow and 2-degree temperatures.
December 1947-Over 24 hours, 26 inches of snow landed on New York City, Nassau County and western Suffolk County. Schools and government agencies were shut down for days, and road crews worked for weeks to remove abandoned cars. The Long Island Rail Road broke down, leaving some passengers on trains for 18 hours and triggering a near-riot of stranded commuters in Penn Station. The storm still stands as the largest single accumulation of snow in Central Park.
But the worst storm on record that ever hit Long Island, said the Weather Channel's Kocin, wasn't in the last century. In March 1888 Long Island was buried under 3 feet of snow over two days, as temperatures hovered near zero. The storm was responsible for 400 deaths across the metropolitan area.