A combination of the day-night band and high resolution infrared imagery from the Suomi NPP satellite shows the historic blizzard near peak intensity as it moves over the New York through Boston Metropolitan areas at 1:45 am EST on January 27, 2015. (NOAA/NASA)
In addition, to the birthdays of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Lewis Carroll, and famous ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, January 27th is also known for some historic snow storms. The 1981-2010 climate normals show a generally zonal range of temperatures from 62 degrees F near southern New Mexico/ Baja California to 8 F near NW Minnesota on this day. At this point, the northeastern U.S. has already reached their peak coldest day of the season- with Syracuse, NY the last major city at January 25th. Precipitation is centered around northern and central California and northern Washington- a key season for their rainfall.
1776- George Washington reported three feet of snow near Mount Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson about 3 feet at Monticello during the “Washington and Jefferson Snowstorm”
1922- 28” of snow fell from Jan 27-29 across the Washington D.C. area, the highest snowfall since record keeping began in 1885. The roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre collapsed the next day during a comedy show due to significant snow accumulation killing 98 people and injuring 130. (NWS Aberdeen, SD)
1966- In the midst of a 5-day lake effect storm, Oswego NY was buried under 102 inches of snow (David Ludlum)
1967- 23 inches of snow fell in 29 hours near Chicago, causing the city to become paralyzed in the days following (NWS Chicago)
1987- 1.9” of snow fell in Florence, SC for a 2-day total snowfall of 3.9” (NWS Wilmington, NC)
1988- A push of cold arctic air caused Hollywood, FL to report a record low of 39 degrees (National Weather Summary)
1989- Two-thirds of Alaska fell below normal for January 1989, with Fairbanks at its 8th consecutive day below -40, and Tanana at a low temperature of -76 F and a high of -68 F for the day. Wind chills were near 100 below zero (The Weather Channel)
1990- A series of cold fronts brought over 60 inches of snow to the Cascade Mountains of Washington State between the 23rd and the 27th (Storm Data)
2005- Month-to-date snowfall at Boston’s International Airport totaled 43.1 inches and making it the snowiest January on record
2015- Winter Storm Juno reached peak intensity of 975 mb in the early morning hours of January 27, dumping up to 3 feet of snow over parts of New England, winds up to 60 mph, and major flooding along the Massachusetts coast (The Weather Channel)
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©2020 Meteorologist Sharon Sullivan
The city of Washington D.C. comes to a halt during the deadly 1922 Knickerbocker blizzard with snow drifts as high as 16 feet ; (Left) a man walks through deep snow drifts near the Smithsonian Institution.
Reflecting on the Historic Ice Storm of 1994 (Credit: National Weather Service Jackson, MS, NOAA)
If one were to bring up the year 1994 in the Southeast, most everyone will immediately recall the incredible ice storm that occurred that year. During a 4-day span in February 1994, parts of Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi experienced the worst ice storm of the decade, if not the century. Mississippi was hit the worst, but the people in the surrounding states were also affected heavily and would remember this event for decades to come.
On February 9, 1994, an unusually deep trough with an unusually large cold front was perturbating through the Southeast with the deepest part of the trough extending as far down as southern Texas. Ahead of the front, temperatures were in the lower 70’s Fahrenheit across the delta and into Alabama; however, behind the front, temperatures had plummeted to the mid 30’s in Memphis and even to single digits further behind the frontal boundary. For Memphis, there was a recorded temperature drop of almost 40°F overnight as the front passed through. Moderate rain showers began to develop behind the front as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico rushed in, causing a changeover to wintry precipitation by evening as temperatures behind the front continued to drop.
By 6:00 AM CST on February 10th, the front had pushed as far south as the panhandle of Florida. Meanwhile, freezing rain and sleet continued to fall in the areas behind it with accumulations of up to one inch of pure ice by morning. By this point, the wind became southwesterly across much of the Southeast, causing moisture to accrue over the cold polar air mass. The front began to slow as it progressed through southern Alabama and the panhandle of Florida, which allowed a deep area of low-pressure out of the Gulf of Mexico to collide with the already cool, moist air mass behind the front. This caused even more precipitation to occur over the following day, February 11th, which added another 1-2 inches of freezing rain over Memphis and northwest Mississippi that had already had an inch of frozen precipitation from the days prior. Unfortunately, for many across the area, power lines and trees were heavily affected by the weight of the ice, causing the trees to fall and break, and the power lines to sag, and even worse, topple over. Many in the area were without power for days and cellphones had no service. Over the event, a total of 3-6 inches of ice had accumulated in Mississippi and Tennessee, with the higher amounts accrued in the Mississippi Delta. One power line worker reported ice on a power line that was measured to be one foot in diameter!
On February 12th, wind flow remained southwesterly, but temperatures began to warm up across the area to begin a rather slow thaw. An area of high pressure was approaching and passed through the area on February 13th, which led to clear conditions and an eventual complete melting of all the frozen precipitation.
It is estimated that a total of 741,000 people were without water during the event, and 4,700 miles of power lines were down causing 750,000 people without power across Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas. Most people had power restored within a week, but some were without power for an entire month. Overall, this event caused over $3 billion in damage across the Southeast.
This event is why most people who live in this region take winter weather so seriously. This system over-performed compared to what was forecasted to occur; however, the sophistication of forecasting and forecasting instruments have substantially increased since then so if this event were to happen again, it would be relayed ahead of time so residents can prepare appropriately.
©2020 Meteorologist Ashley Lennard
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