Blizzard of 2006: One for the record books

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:48 PM GMT on February 13, 2006

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The Blizzard of 2006 is over, but not before dumping an all-time record amount of snow on New York City, 26.9 inches. This bested the total from the infamous "Great White Hurricane" of 1888 (21 inches), and the previous all-time record, 26.4", set December 26-27, 1947. The 26.9 inches at Central Park was the most snow of any location in New York State. Hartford, CT also set its all-time record for snowfall, with 21.9 inches. The previous record was 21 inches on February 11-12, 1983. The western suburbs of Hartford received as much as 27 inches. Snowfall amounts as high as 21 inches were reported in Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, while Massachusetts saw up to 22 inches, New Hampshire, 17 inches, Rhode Island, 16 inches, and Maine, 13 inches. Boston received 17.5 inches and a 2.5 foot storm surge, which caused some minor flooding problems. The storm was Boston's 11th biggest snow on record.

What appeared to be a rather ordinary Nor'easter on the computer model forecasts Saturday, intensified dramatically on Sunday as the center moved out over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. For reasons we don't understand very well, the blizzard formed an intense band of thunderstorms with snowfall rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour that swept across New York City and much of southern New England. Eleven inches of snow fell in three hours at Central Park between 7am and 10am on Sunday, the kind of "snowburst" one seldom sees except in lake-effect storms in the lee of the Great Lakes. New York City reported lightning and thunder for six hours during the height of the blizzard. Check out this 3-hour radar animation from the New York City radar Sunday morning. You can see a narrow band of extremely heavy snow that stretches from northern New Jersey through New York City and northeastward to Hartford Connecticut. This band has echo intensities of 40 dBZ, which are common in warm-season thunderstorms, but rarely observed in winter storms.

In Florida this morning, the cold air that pushed in behind the Blizzard of 2006 brought a hard freeze to most of the northern portion of the state, and freeze warnings are posted for as far south as Miami tonight. The Miami Herald reported that on Sunday over 50 people lined up outside the Burlington Coat Factory at a local mall, and thronged the cash registers 15 deep to purchase wool coats once the store opened. While winter will ease up in Florida later this week, the general winter pattern for the rest of February looks to be typical for February, with normal or below-normal temperatures for much of the U.S.

When is a blizzard like a hurricane?
The Blizzard of 2006 had a distinct eye-like feature when it moved offshore over the warm Gulf of Mexico waters and intensified Sunday. Was it exhibiting hurricane-like characteristics? I'll report tomorrow on a study I participated in back in 1987 when we flew our Hurricane Hunter airplanes through one of the strongest Nor'easters ever recorded, to help answer this question.

Jeff Masters

Dude, Where's My Car (Hobokenite)
A man on 6th Avenue in NYC looks for car
Dude, Where's My Car
Crystalline Entity (stoneygirl)
This delicate snow flake was the crowning glory of all the flakes I photographed today. It is a true work of art.
Crystalline Entity
NYC SNOWSTORM (Zormsk)
Currently 23 inches (58.4cm) of snow covers Central Park in New York City. A nor'easter continues to pound the east coast USA. This image was sent to me by my son who lives in Manhattan. He reports being apartment bound since Friday evening. This view shows his apartment cat "Kimba" taking in the unusual scene from their 25th floor window.
NYC SNOWSTORM

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98. Hurricaneblast
11:08 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
I'm supprised that wasn't Hurricane Alberto...Looks like time for NYC is running out before a hurricane does hit....
Member Since: February 14, 2006 Posts: 161 Comments: 3626
97. Hurricaneblast
11:06 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
I'm a little late on this but....THAT WAS THE NOR' EASTER?? That looks alot like Wilma when she came up here but a lot closer than Wilma.......
Member Since: February 14, 2006 Posts: 161 Comments: 3626
96. TampaSteve
6:11 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
rwdobson: freezing drizzle??? UGH! We'll be pushing 80 by Thursday here...it'll be good to get back to normal...

95. atomicskies
3:25 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
In minnesota we definately get our fair share of "chinook-like" flucuations, usualy most extreme in April. I can remember a few years back where the high of 91 degress was followed by 6inches of snow barely a day later. However, its not as often as those mountain winds you guys get in denver. That must break havoc on the bodys ability to acclimate!
94. rwdobson
3:21 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
Steve, high of 61? Kansas City's high today may be 68! lol. we'll freezing drizzle by Thursday.
Member Since: June 12, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 1589
93. TampaSteve
2:56 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
cyclonebuster: The odds of severe weather here in Tampa is pretty much ZERO today...we're sitting under a huge mass of cold, dry arctic air...it got down to below freezing last night...it's 49 right now on the way to a high of 61 today and 72 tomorrow...ahhhhh...I love Florida!!!
92. TampaSteve
2:53 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
Cool pic, KRWZ...love that eye...

Happy V-day, everyone!
90. DenverMark
1:37 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
At least we're expecting some snow here later this week and some fairly cold days in the teens and 20s. I'm ready!! Well, off to work I go.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
89. DenverMark
1:27 PM GMT on February 14, 2006
Hi,atomicskies - I'm an old midwesterner, from the Chicago area originally. While Chicago isn't Minnesota, we had some really good winters back there in the '70s, especially 1978-79. What I miss most in Denver is the lack of good cold winter weather. Being on the lee side of the mountains, we usually have downslope "chinook" winds and temperatures in the 50s or 60s, broken by the occasional arctic front that can bring a few days of cold weather. But it never lasts long. Yeah,it can snow a lot but that's usually in March and April and melts off fast. It's very difficult to get gulf moisture into Denver in mid-winter, so we don't have much snow now, we get it in the spring. This winter has been bone dry down here and the wind blew for weeks on end from Christmas until the last week or so. At least the mountains have a good snowpack in northern Colorado (not so good in southern Colorado which is typical of La Nina). BTW January was not a record breaker here, only the 8th warmest since we are usually mild here.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
88. aquak9
10:01 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Happy V-day, everyone. It warms my heart to have the pleasure of the friends I've made on this site. Stay warm! Woof!
Member Since: August 13, 2005 Posts: 168 Comments: 26082
87. HurricaneMyles
7:00 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Twas the picture I was talking about earlier. Near perfect eye with what appears to be the stadium effect. Amazing to look at, expecailly in a Nor'easter =)
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
86. atomicskies
6:11 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Wow, that's amazing looking....
85. atomicskies
6:11 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Wow, that's amazing looking....
84. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:55 AM GMT on February 14, 2006



you all have to see this
83. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:53 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
oops me try one mor time lol
82. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:52 AM GMT on February 14, 2006



i hop this look lol is is the one you got to see dos any one see a vay good eye
81. atomicskies
5:51 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
And thanks stormchaser77 for the aknowledgement...I agree with you that more funding is indeed needed in the meterological sciences... More research and knowledge of climate and weather is the most effective way to understand and react to natures forces.

I've been reading these blogs for some time and haven't seen any sort of positive reaction to the hurricane season of 2005. Things aren't so black and white on this issue and we should feel grateful that we have this chance to learn and to find a saner way to living on this planet.


Here in minnesota, we haven seen subzero nights since early december. After the warmest january on record (avg temp 28.6) we are finally getting a good cold week of arctic air. You might find it crazy that I, or numerous other minnesotans are happy for lows below minus 10, but to many, it just doesn't right to go through such a warm winter. There is a definate pride of being able to survive extreme cold in the winter. Go anywhere and say you are from minnesota, and people alays ask, "how do deal with the cold," or something to that effect. Here, on any given below zero day and outsider would be amazed how it looks like business as usual to most. Scores of runners on the lake, kids walking to school, bikers commuting (minneapolis has the highest percentage of bike commuter in the usa) show the attitude of accecptance of where we live and the need to be outside in nature. Also, for living with these usually long frigid winters we get the most pleasent summer to enjoy.

The last several (albiet not consectuctive) winters have been more like the climate of nebraska or missouri. While it doesn't prove climate change alone the rapid change in climate that potientially is happening is slightly unnerving and could be harmful.

So every snowstrom and cold snap makes us a little less worried that soon, we may not have our character building winters that we treasure.

That being said, this saturday it is forcast to be about minus 7 when I do one of several weekly training rides I do as a road bike racer during the winter. On that day ill probably do 30 to 40 miles. I'm sure I won't be the only one, either.
80. bigdrvr
5:38 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Cyclonebuster..How are your tunnels going to stop the effects of baroclinic forcing, upper level disturbances and other things that are not associated with SSTs?? I have lurked awhile and seen this idea...And marveled at how bad of a idea it is (the tunnels). We simply cannot change sea surface temps and expect things to be a'ok...For every action there is a equal and opposite reaction...
79. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
5:37 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
ahhh its one of cyclones tunnels LOL


that is funny
78. theboldman
5:33 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
ahhh its one of cyclones tunnels LOL

Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
77. theboldman
5:31 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
91 dang
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
76. lightning10
5:16 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Also it was 91 degrees today. It should cool down 10-20 degrees tomarow. By the end of the week mybe is we are ever so lucky there might be a pattern change for next week for the southwest. Mybe phoenix and los angeles pick up on some rain. it looks like its going to be to little to late this season.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
75. lightning10
5:11 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Hi everyone here is a question that is in my mind

One question in my mind is could the La Nina Pattern we are in could have influenced this type of snow fall?

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 41 Comments: 630
74. atomicskies
5:09 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
One of the worst things we continue to do to our coasts is to destroy one of natures solutions to the problem of destructive storms: costal wetlands. Instead of talking about tunnels, how about discuss ways to restore a pretty darn effective way to buffer storms.

The fact is, we have known that this natural barrier protects us, and to remove it would be potientially catastrophic. The Everglades and the mississippi delta come to mind as prime examples. The destructive and ignorant act of knowingly disrupting these wetlands by developers and goverment officals for namely the sake of money is just one sad example of what we do to every part of the land we live on. We've known better for some time and its sad that we haven't done better as a species on this matter, given the some of the stellar and amazing things that humans are capable of doing.
71. phillyfan909
4:13 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Hi DenverMark, thanks! I am across the Delaware river in Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia airport. I worked in Cherry Hill for a while, many years ago. I like Ocean City. My folks go down to Avalon every year.
70. ForecasterColby
4:03 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Fantasy Hurricane Adrian is now at 70kt - get in on the fun!
69. blackcloud
3:47 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Cyclone, how in the world are you going to be able to cause upwelling over such a vast area? I mean a hurricanes track covers hundreds if not thousands of square miles. Your idea just doesn't seem fesable to me. And if you do manage to accomplish it, what effect will such a huge upwelling on the rest of the environment? what about the marine life? The fishing industry? Please provide us some hard data.
68. ForecasterColby
3:41 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Not to mention that hurricanes use up a tremendous amount of energy, and thus moderate global warming.
67. atomicskies
3:39 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
I just don't understand why one would want to prevent storms from happening. We have them for a reason. As with the increased frequency of storms as a reason to contol them; either nature is trying to tell us something, or she's just in an intense storm cycle. Either way the storms are useful.
Case in point, 2005s record breaking season helped finally bring in the question of overpopulation on the coasts, finally turned the tide against a very uncaring (to anyone not rich) administration, and upped the debate on both sides on the global warming theroy.
Yes, the damage and death that resulted is catastrophic, but maybe it should be seen as a lesson that we are being taught. Nature can and will be more damaging if we continue to disrespect the very planet that gave us life.
Also, I think it very obivous to both sides of the global warming debate that its probably not a good idea to do what we've doing to earth. How could anyone not concede that over consumption of nonrewable resources, overpopulation, overfarming, and pollution has a negative effect on our very finite and fragile planet? So even if co2 emissions somehow don't cause global warming, there are adverse effects of what we are doing (if not the co2 itself) but for the machines and factories used that create co2. They produce other byproducts that are potientially(and many already and obivously) harmfull to our planet.
66. taco2me61
3:19 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
*feels a desperate need to roll eyes*
OMG I think we have had enough...

:0) taco
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3261
63. DenverMark
2:51 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
phillyfan, we live in Thornton and work in Northglenn, just east of I-25 and about 12 miles north out of downtown Denver. My mother grew up in south Jersey and I have an uncle and two cousins who live in Palmyra. Our favorite place on the Jersey shore is Ocean City.
Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
61. phillyfan909
1:01 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Denvermark, my sister and her family are in Boulder, whereabouts are you?
60. phillyfan909
12:59 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Thanks Skyepony, I like hearing about what's going on in areas that don't usually get any attention. I was really hoping that that storm would sort of make the desert bloom or something, very sorry about what actually happened.

And Cyclonebuster I DON'T want to hear about what your tunnels would have done, or not done. It's starting to resemble spam.
59. DenverMark
12:56 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
This storm and the intense band of snow that contributed to the record total in NYC brought to mind a similar situation that I experienced here in the Denver area once. My job in city parks involves plowing parking lots and bike trails. On this occasion, a little over 10 years ago, the NWS forecast 1 to 3" of snow overnight across the Denver metro area. It snowed very lightly during the evening with less than 1" on the ground by 10 PM. My co-workers and I made the call to come in about 5:00 the next morning, shovel a few walks around our City Hall and Recreation Center and that would be about all that was needed. I went to sleep with only a few flurries coming down. When I woke up at 4:00 AM, to my horror there was a foot of snow on the ground! We all rushed in to work and plowed like maniacs but couldn't get all of it cleaned up in time before the city buildings opened. We got chewed out real good by the boss, but it wasn't really our fault. There was nothing in the forecast that mentioned any possibility of a heavy snowfall. While we had 12"+, areas 10 miles north or south of us only had 2 to 3"! We apparently fell victim to an intense band of snow which sat right over our area. Later,someone who had been up most of the night told me the intense snowfall started just after midnight and came down at the rate of 4" per hour for the next three hours before ending as abruptly as it started. I didn't know about banding in winter storms at the time, but sure do now. In recent years, I always check the NWS forecast discussion to see if there is any possibility of banded precipitation occurring, and we are alert to this. My wife has become accustomed to me not getting much sleep when it snows!! But apparently, the band that stalled over NYC blindsided everyone. This is obviously a big forecasting challenge. BTW, we didn't have any thunder with our storm in north metro Denver.









Member Since: February 11, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 6988
58. Skyepony (Mod)
12:50 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
oops~ incomplete post back there...Well aparently the storm we were watching caused flood waters that have destroyed mud brick houses and other shelters in three camps in the desert region of Tindouf in Algeria. It flooded 50,000 people. 1 death reported, but they have yet to reach one of the 3 camps.
Link ~ the chance for the dust we had last season making a comeback is looking less & less.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 176 Comments: 38222
57. phillyfan909
12:49 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Thanks dcw. We got a foot, which is significant for around here but not extreme. I'm glad there wasn't more.

Later this week it's supposed to go up all the way to 50 degrees! Alright! (I'm just a little worried about a sudden meltdown though)
56. dcw
12:43 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
I think Philly got a big band. This storm was almost a bust - the major bands were only barely onshore, if the low tracked 50 miles east of where it did, it wouldn't have dropped much of anything.
Member Since: August 2, 2001 Posts: 2 Comments: 3
55. SBKaren
12:42 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
I've been enjoying or sidetrack to summer here in SoCA, but I know we still do need our winter - especially rain! We really need to clean up the air and just the environment in general from all the fires last week. Last I heard was a possibiility of sprinkles on Friday - we'll see!
Member Since: February 21, 2005 Posts: 195 Comments: 14571
54. Skyepony (Mod)
12:42 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
That storm we were watching off Africa, spent the last two days disapating over the NW side of A
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 176 Comments: 38222
53. phillyfan909
12:38 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
Keeping in mind that NYC and Phila downtown areas are less than 100 miles apart
52. phillyfan909
12:33 AM GMT on February 14, 2006
We got about a foot of snow where I am, just a couple miles from Phila airport.

I was surprised that this storm was NYC's all-time record but still stopped short of Philly's record of 30.7 inches, which was just set a few years ago (maybe 2003?)

They got the same storm back then that we got. Did we get one of those heavy snowfall bands back then and they didn't? Or were the measurement methods different?
51. atmosweather
11:25 PM GMT on February 13, 2006
I would give anything to see snow in Orlando. Closest I have come is snow flurries in Daytona Beach on January 24th 2003, the last time temperatures were this cold.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
50. Inyo
11:16 PM GMT on February 13, 2006
Unfortunately the pictures don't work anymore but you can see the text info still on a cold-core storm that hit San Francisco in 1993 with a well developed eye here. While warming climates may intensify storms, these 'polar lows' have occurred and will continue to occur occasionally regardless of what the climate does.

Also, if the computer models are correct winter might be finally on its way to southern California. They are predicting highs in the 50s in LA by next weekend with HIGHS in the 20s in the mountains and occasional snow. Since we've already moved back to summer this will confuse the heck out of the wildflowers that are trying to bloom now.

However, the models have been bad this year, i for one hope they are right but am not getting my hopes up yet
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
49. ForecasterColby
10:50 PM GMT on February 13, 2006
It's gonna be cold tonight, but too dry for snow :*(
48. atmosweather
10:44 PM GMT on February 13, 2006
And, I have added a special update on tonight's Florida Freeze. I have plenty of forecast lows for central Florida areas.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265

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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.