On March 12, 1888, a devastating and unexpected northeaster plowed into New England and the mid-Atlantic, dumping up to 50 in. (127 cm) of snow in the space of two days. Some 400 people died, including many sailors aboard vessels that were beset by gale-force winds and turbulent seas. From Montreal to Washington, D.C., cities and towns became isolated as roads proved impassable, train tracks were snowed under and telegraph lines were brought crashing down. In parts of New York City, arctic snowdrifts reached up to the second story of some buildings.