March 2017 Nor’easter

I haven’t posted in a while because there hasn’t been much winter to discuss.  It was the warmest February on record for many U.S. states and only Washington state experienced below average temperatures last month.

Statewide Temperature Ranks, Feb 2017

Statewide Temperature Ranks, Feb 2017

There wasn’t much in the way of snow (or any precipitation) for much of the eastern U.S., with major storms only on the periphery of the warm ridge (places like eastern New England and the northern Plains).

Statewide Precip. Ranks, Feb 2017

Statewide Precip. Ranks, Feb 2017

But now a major snowstorm looks to paralyze the entire Northeastern Corridor.  Although New York and Boston are near average for snowfall this winter, Philadelphia (9.0″ so far vs 20.8″ normally), Washington (1.4″ vs 15.0″), and other cities in the Mid-Atlantic may finally receive their first substantial snowfall of the season.

Example snowfall forecast (by The Weather Channel) shown for illustrative purposes only; no endorsement implied.

However, like other storms there will be a very sharp snow gradient.  This makes forecasting exact amounts for Philadelphia, New York, and other major cities difficult.  While the table above lists 12-18″ for NYC and 8-12″ for Philadelphia, you can see on the map how sharp the snow gradients are, and slight wobbles in the track could give much less – or more – snow for major cities in the Northeast.

The unusually mild February misled many people into thinking winter was over, but major storms can happen in mid-March, such as the “Storm of the Century” — the Blizzard of 1993 (March 12-15) — or the “Storm of the 19th Century” — the infamous Blizzard of 1888.  It will be exciting to see how this storm plays out and if it joins them!

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