Weathering Some of the Biggest Recorded Storms Ever: Background information when reading Winter Sisters

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Winter Sisters

by Robin Oliveira

Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira X
Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Feb 2018, 416 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Davida Chazan

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Weathering Some of the Biggest Recorded Storms Ever

Print Review

1888 BlizzardIn the afterword of Winter Sisters, Robin Oliveira notes that she based the blizzard in the novel on one of the real-life deadliest blizzards in North American history, which took place in 1888. According to the Life Science website, "More than 400 people in the Northeast died during the Great Blizzard, the worst death toll in United States history for a winter storm. On March 11 and March 12 in 1888, this devastating nor'easter dumped 40 to 50 inches (100 to 127 cm) of snow in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Huge snowdrifts buried houses and trains, and 200 ships sank in waves whipped up by fierce winds."

However, while the location of that storm fit Oliveira's story, other aspects don't. That's when I noticed that earlier that same year, in January 1888, another disastrous storm hit the plains states of the US. This one was called the Schoolhouse Blizzard or the Children's Blizzard (among other similar names), because the snow fell during the day, trapping many children in their schools (as well as stranding people outside their homes in their places of employment). This blizzard had a death-toll of 235 people, which might have been much lower, had the storm not hit so suddenly, right during an unseasonably warm patch of weather. The time of year of this blizzard, and the way it hit people unawares and in the middle of the day, are more like what Oliveira describes in her novel.

Storm of the CenturyWhile these two storms aren't the worst blizzards in recorded history, together they made 1888 the year with the deadliest winter weather on record. One other winter storm front in the US was also calamitous, gaining it the title "Storm of the Century." This storm took place in 1993. Over 310 people died, as it stretched across almost the full length of the eastern coast of the US, dropping huge amounts of snow from Cuba to Canada, together with hurricane force winds, which AccuWeather called a "snowicane" (not to be confused with the "Snowmadgeddon" of 2010)!

1972 Iranian BlizzardHowever, according to the World Atlas site, none of these storms were as devastating as the 2008 blizzard in Afghanistan (with 926 fatalities), the 1719 "Carolean Death March" blizzard in Sweden and Norway that killed 3,000 people, or the 1972 storm in Iran with a total estimated loss of about 4,000 lives.

Storm of 1888 on 14th Street, NYC
1993 Storm of the Century, courtesy of Appalachian Magazine
1972 Iranian Blizzard, courtesy of centre.ca

Article by Davida Chazan

This article is from the April 4, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Names They Used for God
    All the Names They Used for God
    by Anjali Sachdeva
    Pre-publication press has already compared Anjali Sachdeva to Kelly Link and other genre-blending ...
  • Book Jacket: Look Alive Out There
    Look Alive Out There
    by Sloane Crosley
    After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane ...
  • Book Jacket: Winter Sisters
    Winter Sisters
    by Robin Oliveira
    Winter Sisters begins with an epic blizzard (see Beyond the Book) hitting the entire Northeast of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.