Blizzard of 2016 perspective: Just 48 miles between ‘jackpot’ and ‘jack’
As officials continue to tabulate final snowfall totals from this weekend's nor'easter, we're starting to get a look at the breadth and significance of the storm.
Well, we can officially call this weekend's snowstorm both historic and a blizzard, as snowfall records were broken and winter weather conditions were among the worst in New Jersey's recorded history.
Storm total snowfall records were set at all three New York City area airports: Newark (28.1"), LaGuardia (27.9"), and JFK (30.5"). Central Park in New York (26.8") saw its second largest snowfall, missing the record by only 0.1". Philadelphia Airport (22.4") saw its 6th highest snowfall ever recorded.
The highest (unofficial) snow totals in New Jersey were observed from Morris to Somerset to Hunterdon counties, in the 30+ inch range. Every county but Cape May saw at least one report of 12+ inches.
Please be patient, New Jersey... With such incredible snow totals, it's going to take a while to plow out every street in the state. I have a feeling more school closings are on the way through the rest of the week.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York has put together some fascinating graphics about the storm that I have to share with commentary:
Throughout the storm, we have made striking comparisons to the Blizzard of 1996, which brought very similar snow totals to a similar area of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. As you can see, a large swath from West Virginia to Virginia to Pennsylvania to New Jersey saw 20+ inches in both storms. The highest reported total in 2016 was 42.0" at Glengary, WV. The bullseye of the highest confirmed snow total from the Blizzard of 1996 was only about 90 miles south: 47" at Big Meadows, VA.
It's always great to have a bright, sunny day after a snowstorm. Not only does it kick start the big melt, but we get amazing pictures like this, from a satellite orbiting 22,500 miles above the earth's surface. Lots of white over New Jersey, with lighter snowpack visible along the south coast. More prevalently, there's hardly anything just a few miles north of the NJ-NY state line!
Just a day before the storm, I hypothesized we would see a huge difference in snow totals from the top to middle of New Jersey - just 74 miles. According to the National Weather Service, the gradient was even closer! As the map above illustrates, less than 50 miles separated a lot of snow and a little snow.