Northeast U.S. digs out from yet another history-making snowstorm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:53 PM GMT on December 28, 2010

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The remarkable Post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 has ended for the United States, as the storm has trekked northeastward into Canada. The blizzard dropped epic amounts of snow during its rampage up the U.S. Northeast coast Sunday and Monday, with an incredible 32" falling in Rahway, New Jersey, about 15 miles southwest of New York City. The highest populated areas of New Jersey received over two feet of snow, including the Newark Airport, which received 24.1". Snowfall amounts were slightly lower across New York City. The blizzard of 2010 dumped 20.0" inches on New York City's Central Park, making it the 6th largest snowstorm for the city in recorded history, and the second top-ten snowstorm this year.


Figure 1. Scene from Brooklyn, New York after the Post-Christmas blizzard of 2010. Image credit: Wunderphotographer AK2NY.

Remarkably, New York City has had four of its top-ten snowfalls in the past decade (highlighted in the list below.) According to the National Weather Service, the top ten snowstorms on record for New York City's Central Park since 1869 should now read:

1) 26.9" Feb 11-12, 2006
2) 26.4" Dec 26-27, 1947
3) 21.0" Mar 12-14, 1888
4) 20.8" Feb 25-26, 2010
5) 20.2" Jan 7-8, 1996
6) 20.0" Dec 26-27, 2010
7) 19.8" Feb 16-17, 2003
8) 18.1" Mar 7-8, 1941
9) 17.7" Feb 5-7, 1978
10) 17.6" Feb 11-12, 1983

Newark's 24.2" was one of that city's top-ten snowstorms of all-time, and the 20.1" that fell on Atlantic City, NJ was the city's second largest snowfall in history. Atlantic City's three biggest snowstorms have all occurred in the past ten years:

1) 21.6" Feb 15-18, 2003
2) 20.1" Dec 26-27, 2010
3) 18.2" Feb 5-6, 2010

Philadelphia, PA picked up 12.4", the city's fourth one-foot plus snowstorm in just over a year--a remarkable string of storms, considering the city has had just 24 such snowfalls in history, since 1884. According to phillyweather.net, the latest snowstorm brought Philadelphia's 2010 snowfall for the calendar year to 67.3", breaking the mark for snowiest year ever (previous record: 57.0" in 1978.)

The 18.2" that fell at Boston's Logan International Airport made the storm Boston's 8th biggest in history:

1) 27.6" Feb 17-18, 2003
2) 27.1" Feb 6-7, 1978
3) 26.3" Feb 24-28, 1969
4) 25.4" Apr 1, 1997
5) 19.8" Mar 3-5, 1960
6) 19.4" Feb 16-17, 1958
7) 18.7" Feb 8-10, 1994
8) 18.2" Dec 26-27, 2010
8) 18.2" Jan 7-8, 1996
10) 17.3" Feb 5-7, 1920

Some selected city snowfall amounts for the December 26-27, 2010 storm:

Rahway, NJ 32.0"
Great Kills, NY 29.0"
Piermont, NH 25.0"
Newark, NJ 24.2"
Landgrove, VT 21.0"
Atlantic City, NJ 20.1"
NYC Central Park, NY 20.0"
Boston, MA 18.2"
Ocean City, MD 13.5"
Philadelphia, PA 12.4"
East Providence, RI 10.0"
Danbury, CT 11.1"
Augusta, ME 15.0"
Dover, DE 9.0"
Asheville, NC 9.0"
Bridgeport, CT 8.0"
Huntsville, AL 6.0"
Chattanooga, TN 3.0"

There's a great 40-second time-lapse video of 32 inches of snow accumulating at Belmar, NJ.


Figure 2. The annual average number of snowstorms with a 6 inch (15.2 cm) or greater accumulation, from the years 1901 - 2001. A value of 0.1 means an average of one 6+ inch snowstorm every ten years. Image credit: Changnon, S.A., D. Changnon, and T.R. Karl, 2006, Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States, J. Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 45, 8, pp. 1141-1155, DOI: 10.1175/JAM2395.1.

An unusual number of top-ten snowstorms for the Northeast in recent years
The Northeast has seen an inordinate number of top-ten snowstorms in the past ten years, raising the question of whether this is due to random chance or a change in the climate. A study by Houston and Changnon (2009) on the top ten heaviest snows on record for each of 121 major U.S. cities showed no upward or downward trend in these very heaviest snowstorms during the period 1948 - 2001. It would be interesting to see if they repeated their study using data from the past decade if the answer would change. As I stated in my blog post, The United States of Snow in February, bigger snowstorms are not an indication that global warming is not occurring. The old adage, "it's too cold to snow", has some truth to it, and there is research supporting the idea that the average climate in the U.S. is colder than optimal to support the heaviest snowstorms. For example, Changnon et al. (2006) found that for the contiguous U.S. between 1900 - 2001, 61% - 80% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters with above normal temperatures. The authors also found that 61% - 85% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters that were wetter than average. The authors conclude, "a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 - 2000." The authors found that over the U.S. as a whole, there had been a slight but significant increase in heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 - 2000. If the climate continues to warm, we should expect an increase in heavy snow events for a few decades, until the climate grows so warm that we pass the point where winter temperatures are at the optimum for heavy snow events.

I've done some other posts of interest I've done on snow and climate change over the past year:

Hot Arctic-Cold Continents Pattern is back (December 2010)
The future of intense winter storms (March 2010)
Heavy snowfall in a warming world (February 2010)

Jeff Masters

12-27-10 BLIZZARD WILDWOOD NJ (SHEPPARD)
DUDE WHERE'S MY TRUCK
12-27-10 BLIZZARD WILDWOOD NJ
smart,,,, (brooklyn39)
smart,,,,
Holly Jolly Christmas (jerseyshoretoo)
Our first snow of the season.
Holly Jolly Christmas

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Good Morning everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas. I was visiting NC and Va Beach prior to the blizzard. I luckily left on Christmas morning and missed the mess. Thank Goodness since I have never driven on ice and snow and don't want to try in this late stage of life. The wind was really kicking in the Keys on Sunday. Easily 40MPH winds. I saw two cormorants trying to fly. One was hovering and the other was going backwards! Fl. bay looked like a mud puddle. Despite the fact that we are on the cool side of the temperature gauge (below 70), it still beats the ice and snow. No clouds, so it is nice and sunny. Looking for a warm up this weekend according to the TV weatherman. Everyone have a safe and Happy New Year.
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reached 28 degrees here this morning at my house in Pinellas... Frost covers everything, even the siding and windows have frost on them! The craziest of all is seeing thick white frost all over the palm trees. Many tropical plants that survived last winters epic cold never fully recovered, and may of the survivors are now brown and shriveled up from this winters brutal cold.

The funny thing is this cold outbreak turned out much worse worse then the highly advertised one we had about 2 weeks ago! This is probably the most thick and destructive frost Ive ever seen in the 12 years Ive lived here!

Brooksville reach an amazing 15 degrees yesterday, and 17 this morning!!!Link
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any explanation why there have been severe floods in s. queensland. anyone want to try?
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Good Morning!

Scraping ice off my windshield
hard to imagine
Lows near 50 tomorrow

Low-ku
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227. IKE
That was a boring football game last night with Philadelphia looking like an also-ran.

Memo to NBC: At least 100 shots of Brett Favre on the sideline?
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54368

Ok enough is enough. I love the cold but come on.
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Washington-Post <-- Where I got the image from and you can read what the article says.. Just coming by and hope everyone is having a great holiday..

JG
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oh my bad. We're doin' one hit wonders?

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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54368
1987 Michael Jackson "Bad" album outtake**disregard the credits at the end...

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Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Quoting geepy86:
Thanks, morning comes early around here, nite all.



Agreed. Good night, Sweetie.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Thanks, morning comes early around here, nite all.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1702


Nice, geepy!
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1702



That was fun, Secret Agents! Thanks.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Darn smartphones :) CYA ~!

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Good song
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Quoting Gnomo:




Reported.
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
Hey Em T Vi, I miss this....

Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11271
Quoting Ossqss:
Well, ya just don't know what can show up on the search radar :)

Out >>>>>>>> and



Gnitall



For me, Paul's concert here in San Juan PR, has been the best I've been...
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
Member Since: October 8, 2008 Posts: 14 Comments: 4553
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Here is a real underground song that was hot...do you remember it?



Seems a little familiar.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477

Not a OHW, but I like the tune.



Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
Geez... my toes are complaining... I think I'm going 2 get into bed....
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
201. Ossqss
3:52 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Well, ya just don't know what can show up on the search radar :)

Out >>>>>>>> and



Gnitall

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
200. BahaHurican
3:51 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
I knew we weren't going to get out of here 2 night w/out at least 1 Donna Summer .... lol
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 22322
199. sunlinepr
3:49 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Prog Roots

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198. GeoffreyWPB
3:48 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
---
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197. GeoffreyWPB
3:45 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Good night all...Thanks for a fun night...

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11271
196. Grothar
3:45 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I use to be a DJ...A big favorite



No wonder you know all these songs. And all this time I thought you were a meteorologist. (Played some good one tonight)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26477
195. sunlinepr
3:39 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting Ossqss:
Just piling on :) Burrr in Bradenton, 37 and counting down !



1000+ ;))
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 21 Comments: 9821
194. PSLFLCaneVet
3:38 AM GMT on December 29, 2010



Ain't it the truth. LOL
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193. GeoffreyWPB
3:35 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Not a one-hit wonder, but a nice song.

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11271
192. DontAnnoyMe
3:33 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:


Hey, I'll thank you both to avoid bursting my bubble.


Sheesh, I thought blinders were a regular part of our collective experience.


Wanna play, gotta pay ;-)
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191. PSLFLCaneVet
3:33 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting caneswatch:


Yeah, I wouldn't either.

BTW, Evening PSL!



Thanks.

Good evening, friend.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
190. PSLFLCaneVet
3:31 AM GMT on December 29, 2010


Hey, I'll thank you both to avoid bursting my bubble.


Sheesh, I thought blinders were a regular part of our collective experience.
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
189. BahaHurican
3:29 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Sometimes I think the 20 years from about 1965 to 1985 was the era of the best one hit wonders ever.... everybody had one good song they recorded in their basement or garage.... lol
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188. caneswatch
3:28 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting DontAnnoyMe:


Good evening. Don't get too excited!


Yeah, I wouldn't either.

BTW, Evening PSL!
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186. DontAnnoyMe
3:27 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting PSLFLCaneVet:



Good evening, people!

I'm giving my thoughts on the OHW debate, some time to germinate.

Nice to see the blog civil again tonight!


Good evening. Don't get too excited!
Member Since: September 21, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 3690
185. GeoffreyWPB
3:26 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
I use to be a DJ...A big favorite

Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11271
184. PSLFLCaneVet
3:22 AM GMT on December 29, 2010



Good evening, people!

I'm giving my thoughts on the OHW debate, some time to germinate.

Nice to see the blog civil again tonight!
Member Since: July 23, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 12414
183. Ossqss
3:22 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Just piling on :) Burrr in Bradenton, 37 and counting down !

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182. caneswatch
3:21 AM GMT on December 29, 2010
Quoting Gnomo:


Way to ruin it.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.