BLIZZARD OF HISTORIC PROPORTIONS EXPECTED TO HIT NEW ENGLAND STATES
February 07, 2013
(NATIONAL) -- Will it turn out to be a historic storm like the Great Blizzard of 1888, one of the most severe snow storms in U.S. history? A storm that saw snowfall of between 40 and 50 inches in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, and sustained winds of more than 45 miles per hour?
: Park Place in Brooklyn New York on March 14, 1888 after the Great Blizzard. Photo from NOAA Photo Library/Historic NWS Collection. Larger image is below.
LARGER version of above. Park Place in Brooklyn New York on March 14, 1888 after the Great Blizzard. Photo from NOAA Photo Library/Historic NWS Collection. CLICK TO ENLARGE
MAP produced by AccuWeather shows expected snowfall amounts from the blizzard through Friday night over New England. CLICK TO ENLARGE
That monster produced snowdrifts in excess of 50 feet, shut down railroads and confined people to their houses for up to a week.
And there was a Great Blizzard in 1978 that raked the Midwest, dumping huge amounts of snow across Indiana and Michigan. The death toll climbed to 70 people and drifts of snow were so high that they reached rooftops with massive wind gusts of 100 mph.
No one knows if the storm headed for the New England states in the next two days will be as fierce as either of those storms but it could be a doozy nonetheless.
There are two storms that are forecast to merge into one big one near New England on Friday.
One storm is moving in from the Great Lakes that's already producing snow there and another storm is moving up the East Coast and both are being fed by cold air from Canada.
Forecasters say the event could turn into a "potentially historic" blizzard over New England on Friday and Saturday, dumping as much as 2 feet of snow across parts of the region.
The storm is expected to gain momentum Thursday in the Great Lakes area where up to 6 inches could fall in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and New York state and by Friday that storm will be felt in New England along the Maine coastline, in southeastern New Hampshire, in eastern Massachusetts, and in parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
On Wednesday the National Weather Service upgraded what had been a Winter Storm watch to a Blizzard Watch in effect for the region from Friday afternoon through Saturday afternoon.
The advisory calls for heavy snow and high winds with the potential for blizzard conditions. “The worst of the storm will be Friday night into Saturday morning. Snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour are possible. Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing and drifting snow,” says the weather service Blizzard Watch.
The hardest-hit cities, according to AccuWeather could be Hartford; Providence; Boston; Worcester, Mass.; Concord, N.H.; Portsmouth, N.H.; and Portland, Maine.
What makes a blizzard? For a storm to be classified as a blizzard it must last three hours or longer with sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 mph or greater, according to Accuweather.
On top of the wind requirements, there must also be considerable falling OR blowing snow, reducing the visibility to less than a quarter of a mile frequently.
"Blizzard conditions often occur on the Plains without any falling snow with a high frequency of strong winds," according to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
Sometimes blizzard conditions only occur over a small area, but in the cities and towns that are hit travel is brought to a stand still.
The weather preceding the Great Blizzard of 1888 was unseasonably mild with heavy rains that turned to snow as temperatures dropped rapidly. The storm began in earnest shortly after midnight on March 12, and continued unabated for a full day and a half.
The National Weather Service estimated this huge 1888 Nor'easter dumped as much as 50 inches of snow in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts, while parts of New Jersey and New York had up to 40 inches.
Parts of northern Vermont received from 20 inches to 30 inches and snowdrifts were reported to average an amazing 30 to 40 feet – meaning over the tops of houses from New York to New England, with reports of drifts covering 3-story houses.