The storm was not done on Tuesday, unleashing wind-driven snow downwind of the Great Lakes and in parts of the Appalachians. It comes as an upcoming pattern change favors stormier weather for much of the Lower 48.
The worst weather on Monday struck just 20 miles north of Philadelphia in North Wales, Pa. That’s where a tornado touched down and tossed about several cars while partially peeling the roofs off several businesses. It was the first November tornado in three years in Pennsylvania and only the 34th since 1950, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Greg Diamond.
A tornado may also have briefly touched down west of Dover, Del., around 3:15 p.m. Monday.
Tornado watches blanketed much of the Mid-Atlantic on Monday afternoon, at least nine tornado warnings were issued as bands of thunderstorms with fleeting pockets of rotation shifted east.
Snow surges south behind storm
In Maryland, eastern counties were included in tornado watches Monday afternoon while winter storm warnings were up simultaneously for counties in the Panhandle just 130 miles to the west. The stark contrast marked where warm, moist air preceded a surge of chilly air behind the front that brought snow to the upslope zones of the western Appalachians.
Snow showers reached as far south as Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, including in metro Atlanta on Monday. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport set a daily snowfall record, a trace coming down as evening snow showers developed in the frigid air behind the front. Atlanta bottomed out at 29 degrees Tuesday morning.
Elsewhere, accumulating snow was still falling on Tuesday morning. Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories stretched from the southern Appalachians, including along the Tennessee-North Carolina border through West Virginia and into parts of Ohio, northwest Pennsylvania, and western New York state. That’s where air forced up the mountains will enhance snowfall, resulting in near blizzard conditions reported in Snowshoe, W.Va.
Some places saw their wintry weather bolstered even more by moist northerly flow off the relatively warmer waters of Lake Erie. South Thompson, Ohio, northeast of Cleveland, had reported a foot of snow by noon Tuesday. A few spots may close in on 18 inches by the end of the day. More than 60,000 were without electricity around midday Tuesday as heavy wet snow snapped power lines.
A similar band of lake-effect snow also formed from due northerly winds blowing down the length of Lake Michigan on Monday.
In a display of meteorological caprice typical only of 2020, lake-effect snow even developed in Alabama when chilly air blowing parallel to Wheeler Lake, only two miles wide, resulted in snow showers west of Huntsville.
“Yes, you read that correctly” wrote the National Weather Service in Huntsville when referencing the unusual snow band in its Monday evening forecast discussion.
Record rainfall in the Northeast
In between the snow and severe weather, heavy rainfall brought pockets of localized flooding along the East Coast. D.C. picked up 2.39 inches of rain on Monday, the city’s sixth wettest November day on record. Baltimore saw 2.74 inches, historically its second wettest November day.
Washington County, R.I., reported up to 4.32 inches west of Warwick, while Hartford County, Conn., saw more than three inches. Philadelphia, New York and Boston each had just under an inch.
Fierce winds bring power outages, close bridge
In addition to the impressive rain totals, the winds were strong and proved highly disruptive in some areas. The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority temporarily closed the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which links Brooklyn with Staten Island, to traffic on Monday afternoon.
Winds gusted to 61 mph in Queens, 64 mph on Long Island and 61 mph in New London, Conn. Hartford gusted to 51 mph, while gusts of 55 to 65 mph blew through eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The Blue Hill Observatory, which sits atop a hill overlooking Boston, clocked winds up to 81 mph.
In Maine, nearly 100,000 people lost power overnight as toppled trees took down power lines and cut service. Arcing electrical lines were caught on camera in downtown Portland, where the emergency 911 system was inoperable for a time Monday evening. Some 66,000 people remained without power early Tuesday afternoon.
Fortunately, the uncharacteristically mild temperatures in the Pine Tree State took some of the bite out of the outage. Caribou in extreme northern Maine hit 60 degrees on Tuesday, its warmest winter temperature ever recorded. Meteorological winter spans from Dec. 1 through the end of February.
Cooler temperatures are expected to build in across the eastern Lower 48 next week. A look at the longer range forecasts points to a stormy pattern persisting for much of the Eastern Seaboard, with at least two or three more storms likely in the next 10 days.