March 14, 1870: A severe snow and wind storm moves across Minnesota and Iowa. The 'Northern Vindicator' of Estherville, Iowa becomes the first newspaper to use the term 'blizzard' on this date.
Potentially Historic Blizzard Shuts Down Northeast
Meteorologists are prone to pangs of jealousy. You see, we all want the most interesting, peculiar weather to show up over our respective cities. It gives us something to babble about - it makes us feel important.
So you can only imagine how much I'd like to be in New York City or Boston today. A late-season blizzard will drop snow at a rate of 2-3 inches/hour with thunder and lightning; winds topping 50 mph creating hour after hour of white-out conditions. The northeast will effectively shut down for the next 48 hours.
According to FiveThirtyEight New York has seen only 5 snowstorms of a foot or more in March or April since 1870. California just had the wettest winter in 122 years; now a super-sized blizzard for New England? There's more water in the air - more fuel for blizzards and floods.
We've had our (3-inch) drama here at home. Take a mental snapshot of the snow in your yard - it'll be gone within 2 days. 40s return Thursday with 50s early next week. Models suggest a mild, Pacific breeze into late March.
Spring won't come as early as 2012, but 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule.
Image above: ECMWF (European) forecast of snow totals, courtesy of WeatherBell.
Blowing Snow Component. NOAA's WSSI prototype predicts the most severe blowing and drifting from eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey to Long Island, coastal New England and Cape Cod.
Bracing for a Blizzard, Officials Close Schools and Stop Trains. No, this won't be just another garden-variety snowstorm. Details via The New York Times.
20+" for New York City? More details on preparation and likely impacts here.
"Blizzard Alley" Runs From Long Island to Cape Cod. Perhaps it's no surprise, but proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and less friction near the water increases wind speeds and the potential to exceed blizzard criteria (35 mph winds + 1/4 mile or less visibility in falling or blowing snow).
* The largest snowstorm of the season – and potentially a historic March system – will impact Washington D.C. to Boston Monday Night through Wednesday.
* The worst of the storm will come Tuesday from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, with snowfall rates of 2-4” per hour, strong winds (30-60 mph gusts) and white-out conditions.
* Forecast snow totals: 5-10” Washington D.C., with a foot or more of snow from Philadelphia to New York, Boston and into Maine.
New York City Snowfall Forecast. Our internal models are showing the potential of over a foot and a half of snow within the New York City metro through Tuesday. During the height of the storm Tuesday, snowfall rates could be as high as 4” per hour. This, along with wind gusts up to 55 mph, will cause white-out conditions and paralyze travel across the region.
NWS Most Likely Snowfall Totals. Based on NOAA guidance, here are the most likely snowfall totals for more select cities:
New York, NY:
Wind Gusts Of 30-60 MPH. As the system deepens off the coast, winds will be on the increase along and near the coast, with wind gusts up to 55 mph possible across some areas. These winds, along with the heavily falling snow, will be enough to cause blizzard/white-out conditions. Wind damage (especially to tree branches where some budding has begun) and power outages can't be ruled out with this storm. The highest winds gusts with this system are expected in:
- Washington, D.C.: Midnight – 10 am Tuesday
- Philadelphia: 4 am – 4 pm Tuesday
- New York City: 4 am Tuesday – 1 am Wednesday
- Boston: 9 am Tuesday – 1 am Wednesday
Summary: Winter is quickly coming back to the Northeast over the next 24-48 hours, with a foot or more of snow likely through Tuesday Night for areas from Philadelphia to New York City and Boston. Snow will begin tonight across the region, so preparations should be completed today for this upcoming system that will not only bring heavy snow with it (potentially falling at 2-4” per hour during the height of the storm) but wind gusts of 30-60 mph with it as well. Operations will likely be heavily impacted Monday Night into Wednesday from this storm. Travel will be nearly impossible across parts of the Northeast Tuesday, and some power outages are likely.
D.J. Kayser, Meteorologist, AerisWeather
One of the Biggest Late-Season Snowstorms on Record? Certainly for New York City; 1-2 feet of snow in mid-March is exceedingly rare. Even our blizzards are super-sized now. Here's an excerpt at FiveThirtyEight that made me do a double-take: "...There have been just five snowstorms of 12 inches or greater in March or April since record keeping started in 1870. More amazingly, none of them have happened in the past 57 years and just one of those happened at this point in March or later. That storm, back in 1896, dropped 12 inches. So as long as this storm has just slightly more snow than is predicted at the lower end of the forecast range, it will be the greatest snowstorm this late in the season in recorded New York City history. If the snowfall hits the upper end of the forecast range, this storm will challenge the infamous Blizzard of 1888 for the largest March or April storm ever..."
Meet the Teen Planting 150 Trees For Every Person on the Planet. One person can change the world - even an ambitious 9-year old. Inhabitat has the inspiring story: "Felix Finkbeiner is on a mission. Ten years ago, when he was just nine years old, he decided to fight climate change by planting one million trees. At the time he felt like adults just talk about the issues facing our planet without taking much action. With his initiative Plant for the Planet, the ambitious teenager surpassed his original goal together with the United Nations’ (UN) Billion Tree Campaign, planting over 14 billion trees in over 130 countries. And he is just getting started..."
Illustration credit: Minh Uong, New York Times.
Photo credit: "Finlay MacKay for Bloomberg Businessweek; Prop stylist: Peter Samuels; Groomer: Angela Di Carlo."
Illustration credit: Oliver Munday for Fortune.
Minnesota Winters: Almost Reasonable. OK. I'm living in a parallel universe, at least for the next few days. Normally New Yorkers squint and ask "how do you LIVE out there 6 months out of the year?" - as if we're living on the surface of the moon. And with one 18 hour stormy fire hose of snow much of the northeast will see nearly as much snow as we have all "winter". We did just have winter, right? If you have friends or family living from D.C. and Philly to New York, Hartford, Providence and Boston call to check up on them. Tell them it's perfectly fine, once the airports open up again, they can fly out to M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A to warm up and calm down. 60 by Sunday? I'm trying not to gloat, but it's hard. This may wind up being the biggest late-season blizzard on record for many cities, potentially historic, and impacts may last at least a week in some counties. Meanwhile I think I have a slushy inch or two on my deck. Be careful out there...
TODAY: Cool sunshine. Winds: E 5-10. High: near 30
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and chilly. Low: 8
WEDNESDAY: Sunny, snow melts rapidly. Winds: S 7-12. High: 34
THURSDAY: Milder with patchy clouds, few showers. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 24. High: 46
FRIDAY: Mostly cloudy, stiff breeze. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 47
SATURDAY: Sunny and pleasant. Light wind. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 28. High: 46
SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, feeling a bit feverish. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 33. High: 54
MONDAY: More clouds, passing shower? Winds: N 7-12. Wake-up: 38. High: 53
This Climate Lawsuit Could Change Everything. Do all of us have a constitutional right to clean air, clean water and a healthy climate system? Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...The 21 plaintiffs, now between the ages of 9 and 20, claim the federal government has consistently engaged in activity that promotes fossil fuel production and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby worsening climate change. They argue this violates their constitutional right to life, liberty and property, as well the public trust doctrine, while holds that the government is responsible for the preservation of certain vital resources — in this case, a healthy climate system — for public use. While legal experts are uncertain as to the lawsuit’s likelihood of success, few have disputed its pioneering nature. Similar cases have been brought on the state level, but this is the first against the federal government in the United States. And in November, the case cleared a major early hurdle when U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken denied motions filed by the Obama administration, as well as the fossil fuel industry, to have the lawsuit dismissed, ordering that it should proceed to trial..." (Image credit: NASA).
File photo: Shutterstock.
Photo credit: "A general view of the site for a new kindergarten on a fossil fuel free construction project in Oslo, Norway February 3, 2017." Picture taken February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Alister Doyle.
Global Climate Change Battles Increasingly Being Won in Court. Here are a couple of excerpts from a Newsweek article: "The South African government has lost the country’s first climate change lawsuit after the hight court ruled against its plans for a coal-fired power station, the latest in a rising tide of international climate litigation. Environmental NGO EarthLife Africa challenged the government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station on the grounds that it should have been preceded by an evaluation of its climate change impacts....The case comes shortly after a groundbreaking climate case decided last month in Austria. A federal court blocked the expansion of Vienna’s international airport because the increase in carbon emissions that a new runway would generate is inconsistent with Austria’s commitments to tackle climate change..." (File photo: NASA).