Brief Overview of the Storm’s Evolution
Evolution of the Surface Low (Animation)
After the surface low emerged over the anomalously warm ocean water on the morning of January 23, it deepened and intensified for another 12 to 15 hours with the central pressure reaching a minimum of 983 mb on the evening of the 23rd. As the surface low occluded, it became quasi-stationary and even moved westward for a few hours. The occlusion culminated in a trowal pivoting around the western periphery of the surface low, resulting in very heavy snow with snowfall rates in excess of 3 inches per hour at times.
The large moisture flux from the very warm waters of the western Atlantic advecting around the surface low with the trowal certainly increased the atmospheric precipitable water content above what might otherwise be expected, and likely contributed to the record snowfall in the affected areas.
Image Credits: Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City via AP
Record sea levels were measured at Lewes Beach, DE, at a level of 9.268FT on January 23, 2016 1312 UTC, and the sea level was recorded at the peak high tide. This sea level rise is the highest ever recorded and was higher than the water levels produced by Hurricane Sandy (2012).
A record wave height of 27.2FT was observed at Buoy 44009 located 26 nautical miles southeast of Cape May, NJ. This was higher than any of the waves observed in Sandy; the previous record was 26.6FT on November 13th, 2009. The third highest was 25.6FT observed on March 6th, 2013. The fourth highest was 25.2FT on February 17th, 2003.
Tides: Forecast vs. Observed
Below are the forecast tidal graphs and observed tidal anomalies from Lewes Beach, Delaware, on 23 January 2016.
These graphs were retrieved over six hour intervals of 4:20am EST, 10:20am EST, 4:20pm EST, and 10:20pm EST. The maximum observed water level occurred shortly before 10:20am EST, around 7:30am EST during the high tide cycle that was immensely influenced by a full moon and strong onshore flow. Notice the sharp increase in water level from the astronomical low tide to the high tide. Note that the low tide prior was nearly the height of the normal high tide.
Another significant record that occurred off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts was a record wave height of 27.2FT measured by Buoy #44009 located 26 nautical miles (nm) southeast of Cape May, New Jersey. The location of this buoy is shown below.
Buoy observations from 44009 also observed a significant wave height increase as conditions deteriorated Friday night, 1/22, into Saturday morning, 1/23. This graph shows the significant wave heights observed through 06z / 1:00am EST on 1/23. There was a significant increase in wave height beginning at 00z / 7:00pm EST, 1/22, through 06z / 1:00am EST in excess of 10FT.
Another significant buoy observation occurred at Buoy 44014 located 64 nautical miles east of Virginia Beach, Virginia. The location of this buoy is shown below.
A significant pressure drop was observed at Buoy 44014, of which inland at Norfolk, Virginia, a pressure drop of 8 millibars (mb) in three hours was observed. Below are the observations from Buoy 44014. The pressure drop is not an anomaly and the buoy remained in tact throughout the storm.
Significant Wind Reports
Storm Force winds (48-55 knots) and isolated Hurricane Force Winds (64+ knots) were observed across the Delaware and New Jersey shores.
|COUNTY||County||Location||MAX WIND GUST||TIME/DATE|
|DELAWARE||New Castle||Wilmington||53 MPH||5:51am|
|DELAWARE||New Castle||Larchmont||52 MPH||5:41am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||Dewey Beach||75 MPH||7:35am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||Sussex County Airport||64 MPH||5:12am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||Lewes Beach||62 MPH||8:53am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||Indian Beach||59 MPH||1:25pm|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||2mi ESE Lewes Buoy||59 MPH||5:25am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||1mi NNE Bottom Hills||57 MPH||7:30am|
|DELAWARE||Sussex||17mi SE Big Stone beach||57 MPH||5:50am|
|MARYLAND||Worcester||Ocean City||55 MPH||2:53am|
|MARYLAND||Worcester||Ocean City||52 MPH||12:53pm|
|NEW JERSEY||Atlantic||Pleasantville||60 MPH||8:00am|
|NEW JERSEY||Atlantic||Atlantic City||58 MPH||6:54am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||2mi NNE Strathmere||64 MPH||6:28am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||Ocean City||63 MPH||6:23am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||Cape May||61 MPH||5:51am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||20mi E Big Stone Beach||61 MPH||6:37am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||Sea Isle City||59 MPH||8:01am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||Cape May NOS Buoy||58 MPH||5:41am|
|NEW JERSEY||Cape May||West Cape May||57 MPH||9:40am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||Bayville||72 MPH||6:49am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||Tuckerton||68 MPH||6:47am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||High Point||64 MPH||10:40am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||3mi WSW Beach Haven||62 MPH||11:42am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||Seven Stars||61 MPH||9:40am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||Seaside Heights||61 MPH||3:20pm|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||Holgate||61 MPH||9:00am|
|NEW JERSEY||Ocean||N Beach Haven||60 MPH||6:39am|
|NEW YORK||Nassau||Bayville||52 MPH||7:24am|
|NEW YORK||Suffolk||Eatons Neck||59 MPH||9:55am|
|NEW YORK||Suffolk||Islip Airport||58 MPH||1:04pm|
|VIRGINIA||Accomack||Wallops Island||70 MPH||n/a|
|VIRGINIA||Accomack||Wallops Island||69 MPH||3:54am|
|VIRGINIA||Accomack||Wallops Island||64 MPH||4:54am|
|VIRGINIA||Accomack||Wallops Island||58 MPH||2:50am|
The Blizzard’s Historic Snowfall
Below is a three-day snowfall total map from January 23rd — January 25th, 2016. This map is based off of preliminary reports.
Snowfall Totals/Records from the Blizzard
The blizzard was historic for many locations, including Central Park, New York, which measured 26.8” — just one tenth of inch shy of their record of 26.9” set on February 11th-12th, 2006.
- Hicksville, 29.6”
- Islip, 26.0”
- Kennedy, 30.5”
- Laguardia, 27.9”
- Yonkers, 20.5”
Significant Snowfall Reports
This table lists some of the highest totals of 24” or more in each state (excludes the highest totals from states if 24” not met but more than a foot) of snow or more:
|STATE||COUNTY||LOCATION||SNOW TOTAL (INCHES)|
|Delaware||Kent||5mi WSW Dover||18.20|
|District of Columbia||Dalecarlia Reservoir||26.00|
|Maryland||Montgomery||2mi NNW North Potomac||38.50|
|Maryland||Washington||3mi E Pecktonville||37.00|
|Maryland||Washington||1mi NE Maugansville||36.00|
|New Jersey||Morris||Long Valley||30.00|
|New Jersey||Somerset||2mi S Bernards Township|
|New York||Queens||Jackson Heights||34.00|
|New York||Queens||NYC/JFK Airport||30.50|
|New York||Queens||NYC/La Guardia||27.90|
|New York||Richmond||Port Richmond||31.30|
|Pennsylvania||Cumberland||1mi NNW Mechanicsburg||36.90|
|Pennsylvania||Dauphin||Harrisburg (RECORD)||30.2 / Prev. was 25, 1983|
|Pennsylvania||Somerset||7mi SE Windber||35.00|
|Virginia||Frederick||2mi W Gainesboro||38.00|
|Virginia||Loudoun||1mi NE Bluemont||36.60|
|Virginia||Loudoun||1mi WNW Round Hill||36.30|
|Virginia||Loudoun||1mi NNE Ashburn||36.00|
|West Virginia||Berkeley||1mi ESE Glengary||42.00|
|West Virginia||Berkeley||1mi SW Jones Springs||39.00|
|West Virginia||Berkeley||4mi NNE Winebrenners||36.40|
|West Virginia||Berkeley||2mi E Martinsburg||36.10|
|West Virginia||Jefferson||1mi NW Shepherdstown||40.50|