UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: Boston’s official storm total was 24.9 inches, enough to rank as the 5th biggest snowstorm on recod.
From earlier: The biggest storm of the 2012-2013 winter so far is finally starting to ease out of the Northeast this afternoon, leaving a wintry wasteland from New Jersey to Maine. While the biggest story is the phenomenal snow totals in parts of southern New England (see below), the human misery toll is high, with brutal wind chills, restricted travel and widespread power outages (the Associated Press is reporting an estimated 650,000 are without power).
As two weather systems (one from the southern branch of the jet stream and one from the northern branch) phased together late last night along the New England coast, tremendous snowfall rates were reported, especially in central Connecticut, where high-end totals (which are still preliminary) are at amazing three-foot levels. The southern-branch component of this storm had a tremendous moisture supply, having already dropped very heavy rains along the coastal Mid-Atlantic Friday. Portland, Maine, set an all-time snow record of 29.3” (beating 1979’s 27.1”) earlier this morning, but that is probably not the final figure as it has continued to snow there. The big winners in this snow pile-up contest so far appear to be (per the National Weather Service):
Milford, CT 38”
Oxford, CT 36”
New Haven, CT 34.3”
Upton, NY 30.9”
Bridgeport, CT 30”
Portland, ME 29.3+” (all-time record)
Bronx, NYC: 15.0”
Central Park, NYC: 11.4”
Boston’s earlier total this morning (an update is expected this afternoon) of 21.8” was its sixth-highest. The city’s biggest recorded snowfall — 27.5” in 2003 — is just barely behind Washington, D.C.’s all-time record fall of 28” set in 1922 during the infamous Knickerbocker storm.
Here is the National Weather Service’s amazing radar shot (to the right) from last night, when Connecticut was getting the brunt of the storm as it was phasing (exploding) along the coast. That looks more like a summer thunderstorm radar than a winter storm situation, but indeed thundersnow was reported in these areas last night as snow was coming down at rates as high as 4 to 6 inches per hour!
A graphic from earlier this morning (also from the National Weather Service) shows the areas that picked up the highest amounts of snow (basically south central Connecticut down to central Long Island).
The other big stories included flooding issues along the Northeast coast due to onshore flow and painfully strong winds. Those winds added a brutal chill (Boston saw wind chills below zero this morning as lows plummeted into the teens) and are still piling up the snow drifts. The highest gust reported so far seems to have been southwest of Cuttyhunk, Mass., at 83 mph. Here are some of the peak wind gusts from the past 24 hours per the National Weather Service and Google Maps:
After a turbulent autumn that included Hurricane Sandy and then a follow-up coastal nor’easter, this winter has seen relatively few classic coastal storms. However, the pattern appears to be changing somewhat, allowing for the possibility of more of these types of East Coast winter weather-makers in the next one to two weeks. We will keep a close eye on the potential for more storms.