30 Years Ago: A Snowstorm Cripples the Hudson Valley
credit: Rick Knight
Certain things stick in your memory. It was 30 years ago, October 4, 1987. I was 12 years old. The annual Octoberfest celebration was happening in my hometown of Germantown in Columbia County. It was a Sunday morning, and everyone woke up to a snowstorm. A heavy wet snow fell across eastern New York and western New England. The leaves were still on the trees and the heavy wet snow caused tree and limbs to fall. This lead to massive power outages.
The snow that day left quite an impression on my 12-year-old self. I remember being without power for about a week. I remember about three days of no school. I recall the Octoberfest that continued that day, with snow on the ground. Then I remember that Monday, with temperatures in the '60s and the all the water and the flooding.
According to weather.gov, the event was labeled an “unprecedented early season snowstorm.” They said snow to liquid ratios were as 3.5 to 1, meaning it was a very heavy wet snow. Some areas across New England had two feet of wet snow. It was the most snow that ever fell during the month of October in Albany and is the earliest measurable snowfall for Albany ever reported. Albany received 6.5 inches of snow.
As I said, we lived in Columbia County, which was one of the hardiest hit counties in New York State from this storm. Watch the video from Channel 10 in Albany. It’s below. It talks about Columbia County and how the storm did a number on the power. A substation in Greenport caused most of the county to lose power after structures were damaged by trees.
An article written in the New York Times on October 5, 1987, the day after the storm, talked about snowfall totals:
The heaviest snow, 20 inches, was reported at East Jewett, in Greene County, south of Albany. Elsewhere in New York State, the National Weather Service reported accumulations of up to 15 inches in Ulster County, 13 inches in Rensselaer County, 12 inches in the Catskills and 10 inches in Columbia County.
Other parts of the Hudson Valley had snow too. Dutchess County had 10 inches and there were seven inches in Putnam and three inches in Westchester County.
So, what happened? A storm off the coast was supposed to bring some light snow showers to the area, and lighter snow fall to higher elevations. The storm intensified over the ocean, pulled in cold area around the comma shape storm. Bringing in cold area and more moisture.