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Most destructive winter storms of the decade

Stacker Logo By Jackie Rocheleau of Stacker | Slide 1 of 26: Winter storms famously pummel the northern U.S. each year, but every state has experienced its share of severe winter weather. Freezing rainstorms have glazed Texas cities in ice, snowdrifts have buried cars in New Mexico, and thundersnow storms have knocked out power nationwide.

For regions acclimated to harsh winters and those that aren't, cold weather storms can disrupt daily life and cause extensive damage. This is because it's challenging to forecast snow. The temperature line between snow and rain is razor-thin, and the different types of snow to contend with—from light and powdery to wet and heavy—complicate predictions and preparations.

Even when storms are accurately predicted, only so much can be done to prepare for the impending weight of snow on roofs and power lines. Add high winds and low visibility, and snowstorms become full-blown blizzards, capable of shutting down major roads and collapsing buildings.

Blizzards are just as treacherous as ice storms. Freezing rain falls disguised as normal rain—but when a layer of cold air above the ground super-cools water droplets, rain forms ice over the surface and can quickly accumulate and add weight over the roads, roofs, trees, and power lines they fall on. Such storms can create widespread power outages that take weeks to restore.

To establish the most destructive winter storms of the decade, Stacker consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Events database from 2010 up to September 2019. The storms were ranked by the highest dollar value of property damage across the states affected.

Stacker's list includes ice storms, blizzards, frosts, freezes, heavy snow, and sleet. Although the database is comprehensive, damage reports often come from local sources and may, therefore, be incomplete.

Read on to learn where and how winter storms caused the most damage in the past decade.

You may also like: 15 wild weather phenomena

Most destructive winter storms of the decade

Winter storms famously pummel the northern U.S. each year, but every state has experienced its share of severe winter weather. Freezing rainstorms have glazed Texas cities in ice, snowdrifts have buried cars in New Mexico, and thundersnow storms have knocked out power nationwide.

For regions acclimated to harsh winters and those that aren't, cold weather storms can disrupt daily life and cause extensive damage. This is because it's challenging to forecast snow. The temperature line between snow and rain is razor-thin, and the different types of snow to contend with—from light and powdery to wet and heavy—complicate predictions and preparations.

Even when storms are accurately predicted, only so much can be done to prepare for the impending weight of snow on roofs and power lines. Add high winds and low visibility, and snowstorms become full-blown blizzards, capable of shutting down major roads and collapsing buildings.

Blizzards are just as treacherous as ice storms. Freezing rain falls disguised as normal rain—but when a layer of cold air above the ground super-cools water droplets, rain forms ice over the surface and can quickly accumulate and add weight over the roads, roofs, trees, and power lines they fall on. Such storms can create widespread power outages that take weeks to restore.

To establish the most destructive winter storms of the decade, Stacker consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Events database from 2010 up to September 2019. The storms were ranked by the highest dollar value of property damage across the states affected.

Stacker's list includes ice storms, blizzards, frosts, freezes, heavy snow, and sleet. Although the database is comprehensive, damage reports often come from local sources and may, therefore, be incomplete.

Read on to learn where and how winter storms caused the most damage in the past decade.

You may also like: 15 wild weather phenomena

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