The Blizzard of 2016, also known as “Snowzilla” in the D.C. area, will be remembered among the all time greats. Its category four ranking makes it the largest northeast snowstorm since a blizzard socked southern New England in January 2005. It’s also the first Category 4 winter storm to impact the D.C. region since the Presidents’ Day storm of 2003.

While admiring the view from space after Snowzilla, I decided to pursue a comparison with other great Northeast storms.

From space, Snowzilla appears as imposing as any of the great storms in recent years.

Below, I have compiled the Category 3 or greater NESIS snowstorms since 2008 along with two Category 2 storms (one whichi impacted D.C. and the other Boston), as far back as unified imagery is available. The storm dates are shown and its NESIS category given along with a description. While our sample is limited, missing some of the greats, it’s also a reminder of how many monsters we’ve seen in recent years.

December 18-21, 2009 snowstorm
Category 2, Significant (snowfall map)

The first of three huge snowstorms during D.C.’s snowiest winter on record of 2009-10, this one dumped significant snow across the entire Northeast megalopolis. Peak totals were in the 20 to 30 inch range, mainly west of D.C. and on Long Island.

February 4-7, 2010 snowstorm
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

Known as Snowmageddon in the D.C. area, this was the second of three major snowstorms to hit the region during the winter of 2009-10. A Mid-Atlantic special, upwards of 30 or more inches fell west of D.C. and in the high country further west.

February 9-11, 2010 snowstorm
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

Still reeling from the first major storm of February 2009-10, the Mid-Atlantic was struck by another. A raging blizzard, when it was over some places had over four feet of storm-combined snow on the ground, and drifts a few feet taller.

February 23-28, 2010 snowstorm
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

Winter 2009-10 also delivered a massive snowstorm outside the Mid-Atlantic. The late-February event dropped a wide swath of heavy snow, including up to 30 inched or more in the Catskills, and it was good enough to rank among the top ten snowstorms in New York City with over 20 inches.

December 24-28, 2010 snowstorm
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

While many in the D.C. area would rather forget this one, thanks to the infamous D.C. snow hole, the Boxing Day blizzard was the second top ten snowstorm of 2010 in New York City. It also dropped heavy snow along the coast from North Carolina on northward.

February 7-10, 2013 snowstorm
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

When weather folks say “fish storm” they usually mean “out to sea.” In this case, the cuddly cartoon fish Nemo was plastered all over the news as snow dumped on New England. Hamden, Ct. reported 40 inches and some places received 4-6 inch per hour thunder snow at peak.

January 29-February 4, 2014
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

Less known for its prolific totals than huge territorial coverage, this storm included every state back to the Plains. The stripe of heavy snow through the northeast missed D.C. just to the north, but moderate accumulations were noted around Philadelphia and New York City.

February 11-14, 2014
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

After years of little to no snow in the D.C. area, the biggest storm since January 2011 rolled through. Western D.C. suburbs picked up as much as 12-18 inches, with a 12 inch or greater stripe running up through Philadelphia and New York City as well.

January 25-28, 2015
Category 2, Significant (snowfall map)

2014-15 was a Boston area winter. After a slow start, the flip switched and snow attacked. The first of several large events, this one dropped an amazing 24.4 inches in Boston to snag fifth biggest snowstorm in the city.

January 29-February 3, 2015
Category 3, Major (snowfall map)

Boston’s own Snowmageddon turned snowier as another event swept through the Midwest and into New England. Once it was done, 10 to 20 inches of new snow striped the Midwest to New England. Boston picked up 16 inches more, with 48 additional to come for the rest of February!

January 21-24, 2016
Category 4, Crippling (snowfall map)

The Blizzard of 2016 was the most severe snowstorm in the northeast since February 2003’s Presidents Day weekend event. It crippled D.C. for several days, and dropped record snowfall in Baltimore and New York City among other places. It was more or less on par with the Blizzard of 1996 (Category 5), except it largely missed Boston.

All but the first image in this post used imagery obtained through the University of Wisconsin/SSEC’s MODIS Today web site. High resolution images were standardized in GIS and photo software by author.