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July-August 2016

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The East Coast Blizzard of 2016: The Northeast Gets Buried

From January 22–23, 2016, a potent snowstorm and blizzard visited the United States East Coast, setting new snowfall records in several locations and paralyzing the vast Northeastern Megalopolis. Nearly 50 million people along the Eastern Seaboard experienced direct or indirect effects (Figure 1). This type of storm, called a Nor'easter, was called various other names by media outlets, including “Winter Storm Jonas” at The Weather Channel and “Snowzilla” by the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang. Snow accumulations topped three feet in several major cities, garnering an impact rating of fourth highest since 1900, per the Northeast Snowstorm Impact Scale (NESIS). Forecasting the storm was an unprecedented achievement, with a remarkable eight days of lead time provided from the medium-range forecast models (both the European and the American models).

Weatherwise Contributing Editor JEFFREY B. HALVERSON is professor of geography at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.       

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