Weather History Revisits the Boxing Day Blizzard of 2010 (Credit: Erik Taylor and National Weather Service- New York WFO)
DISCUSSION: December through February is considered as the official meteorological winter season, so it is of no surprise that snow is the predominant precipitation type with winter weather systems. On this date back in 2010, most of the mid-Atlantic and New England states were dealing with the brunt of a rather powerful winter storm. Heavy blowing and drifting snow affected much of New Jersey, New York, and points north of that as the system rapidly made its way off shore and away from the U.S. mainland. The synoptic setup for this storm system was centered on the rapid deepening of a low pressure system that originally formed on the lee side of the Rocky Mountain range which quickly tracked eastward across the central Plains and southeast U.S. By late evening on the 26th, an upper-level jet streak maximum of near 150 kts (175 mph) was observed over northwestern Florida while significant pressure height falls were observed over the northeast. Moisture from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico was dragged northward along the poleward flank of the trough and observed radiosonde (weather balloon) data showed that the atmosphere through 600 hPa was at near-full saturation. This high amount of low-to-mid-level moisture, coupled with the already present favorable frontogenesis dynamics, set the stage for a significant snowfall event while the system tracked north and east through the mid-Atlantic and New England states.
The result was significant snowfall totals ranging from 20-30” with higher totals primarily along the New York City-New Jersey-Hudson Valley corridor. Heavy convective snow bands trained over the same areas for many consecutive hours, compounding on the snow already on the ground. In addition, a very tight pressure gradient was focused over much of the mid-Atlantic as the low pressure system advanced and upper-level winds sustained winds of 25 to 40 mph with higher gusts at the surface. which led to hazardous conditions for travel and infrastructure. Storms of this nature can occur during this time of year so it is always important to be vigilant to developing winter weather systems and alert to the latest forecasts from local weather forecast offices and the Weather Prediction Center.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Brian Matilla