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Powerful Nor'easter poised to pound Washington D.C. with 2 feet of snow

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:16 PM GMT on February 05, 2010

A powerful Nor'easter is winding up along the Mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. this morning, and stands poised to deliver the Washington D.C. region its second huge winter storm of the season tonight and Saturday. While the Nor'easter will affect a relatively small portion of the coast compared to other historic storms, a narrow region of Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Delaware, and New Jersey should see two feet of snow, and three feet are possible in the higher elevation areas to the west of Washington D.C. If the snow amounts top 20.5" in Washington D.C., it will rank as that city's second largest snowstorm on record. Blizzard warnings are posted for Delaware and southern New Jersey, including Atlantic City, where winds will increase to 30 - 35 mph on Saturday, with gusts to 50 mph. Snowfall rates of 2 - 3 inches per hour will create whiteout blizzard conditions near the coast, and snowfall amounts should approach two feet. Lesser snow amounts near a foot are expected in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and 4 - 8 inches is expected in New York City.

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. January 27-28, 1922 ... 28 inches
2. February 11-13, 1899 ... 20.5 inches
3. February 18-19, 1979 ... 18.7 inches
4. January 6-8, 1996 ... 17.1 inches
5. February 15-18, 2003 ... 16.7 inches
6. February 11-12, 1983 ...16.6 inches
7. December 19-20, 2009 ... 16.4 inches (Snowpocalypse)
8. February 15-16, 1958 ... 14.4 inches
9. February 7, 1936 ... 14.4 inches
10. February 16-18, 1900 ... 14.3 inches

Figure 1. The Nor'easter of February 5 - 6 winds up in this 9:30 am EST image from 2/5/10. Image credit: NASA GOES project.

This weekend's Nor'easter is the second huge winter storm to affect the nation's capital this winter. The December 19, 2009 Nor'easter produced a record 24-hour snowfall in Washington, D.C. and Clifton Forge, Virginia, where nearly 2 feet (61 cm) of snow accumulated. Some interior areas of West Virginia saw 30 inches (76 cm) of snow. The storm broke the record for the amount of snow in a single event in December at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, where 16.3 inches (41 cm) of snow accumulated. The storm was the 6th-greatest snowfall in D.C. history. In Philadelphia, snowfall reached 23.2 inches (59 cm), surpassing the 21 inches (53 cm) snowfall of February 11 - 12, 1983, as the city's second-largest, and breaking a 100-year-old record for the largest single December storm, set on December 25 - 26, 1909 (20.2 inches). The largest storm in Philadelphia history was the North American blizzard of 1996, which produced 30.7 inches (78 cm) of snow.

Have a great Super Bowl weekend, everyone!

Jeff Masters
Ego Alley from Eastport
Ego Alley from Eastport
Shot towards Ego Alley, Marriott Hotel on the left. Snow on fence is 9 - 10
Flooding, snow, and ice. 1st st Ocean City, MD
Flooding, snow, and ice.  1st st Ocean City, MD

Winter Weather

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