ON THIS DAY: November 24, 1950, Pittsburgh’s biggest snowstorm drops 27.4″ of snow, paralyzes region

PITTSBURGH — When it snows big in Pittsburgh, I stack up everything to the Blizzard of ’93 and Snowmageddon in 2010. Those are my bench marks, not only because I was born and raised here, but because those are the ones I lived through.

I asked my dad, “What’s the big one?” and without hesitation he told me, “1950.”

The “Great Appalachian Storm” roared through on Thanksgiving weekend 1950, and the snowstorm brought, officially, 27.4 inches of snow starting late Friday, Nov. 24, and wrapping up Sunday morning, Nov. 26. It is still the single greatest snowstorm in Pittsburgh’s recorded history. The Blizzard of ’93 and Snowmageddon rank third and fourth respectively.

The 1950 storm dropped at least two inches of snow in nearly two dozen states including Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. However, the heaviest snow was centered on Western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia.

Several towns in western Pennsylvania saw more than 30 inches of snow, an event that happens usually once every 15 years.

The deadly storm left record-low temperatures in its wake and shut down much of the area from travel for almost a week.

The National Guard was called upon to enforce travel restrictions downtown, and many motorists found themselves stranded in Irwin, which was the western terminus of the Pennsylvania Turnpike at that time.

Also known as “The Big Snow,” the storm killed more than 50 people. Many of the deaths were attributed to heart attacks triggered by shoveling snow. Flat-roofed buildings were at considerable risk of collapse and damage.