While the storm wasn’t a blockbuster in terms of amounts, snowfall rates along the Interstate 95 corridor were expected to briefly approach or exceed two inches per hour. That surpassed what road crews could handle, making for treacherous travel and, in some locales, standstill traffic.
The Northeast is also carefully eyeing another system Sunday that, while primarily wet, could end with a fleeting dash of frozen precipitation. It will be followed by a bitter blast of Arctic air, the coldest of the winter.
The snow was winding down in eastern New England along the Boston-Providence corridor around 10 a.m., with bands of moderate to heavy snow still pivoting southeast over Cape Cod and the Islands. Some ocean-effect snow will linger over the Mid-Cape and Outer Cape through 2 or 3 p.m. before the system withdraws into the Gulf of Maine. Snow also was falling in Downeast Maine and Nova Scotia.
Winter storm warnings were to expire in eastern New England at 4 p.m., with predicted storm totals of 4 to 8 inches from Providence to Portland.
The storm’s performance came in multiple acts, first as an overachieving round of heavy snow that slipped through the Mid-South on Thursday.
Nashville picked up 6.3 inches, Music City’s greatest calendar-day snowfall since Jan. 22, 2016, and the 12th-most on record for a single day. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center even hoisted a “mesoscale discussion” Thursday to address the potential for “rates on the order of 1-2+ inches per hour.”
Lexington, Ky., received 9.9 inches, its seventh-greatest single-day snowfall on record; record keeping there dates to 1887.
West Virginia tallied double digit snowfalls, such as in East Burlington, which reported 10.7 inches. Davis, Pa., also matched that reading. Charleston, W.Va., reported 8.3 inches, its snowiest day since 2016.
Ski areas in the central Appalachians were slammed. Fourteen inches fell near Canaan Valley, W.Va.
A general 2 to 4 inches were expected from Washington to New York City, but the storm overperformed, especially north of Washington, because of a narrow band of heavy snow. Washington received 2.6 inches, putting it over nine inches for the week, and Frederick, Md., which largely missed out on Monday’s storm, was dealt 5.5 inches in this system.
As of 7 a.m., La Guardia Airport in the Big Apple had 8.4 inches on the ground, while nearby Bridgeport, Conn., sat beneath 8.2 inches. Central Park in New York was closing in on a half-foot, and Newark was up to five inches. Higganum, Conn., about 15 miles south of Hartford near Middletown, topped the charts with 11 inches as of 6:43 a.m.
Around New York City, it was the first significant snowfall of the winter.
The snow was tapering off southwest to northeast but not before making the morning commute a nightmare for those unable to work from home in central and eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. Interstates 95, 495 and 128 were all moving slowly as late as 11 a.m. Friday; traffic was in rough shape all the way to Bangor, Maine.
“Well, the snowfall has over performed, especially in the mesoscale snow band that developed early this morning,” wrote the National Weather Service in Boston in its morning technical forecast discussion. It had been predicting a maximum of 4 to 8 inches, but Norwood and Mendon had eclipsed 10 inches by sunrise. Low temperatures filtering into the region on the back side of the system contributed to a greater fluff factor with the snow, and liquid to snow ratios of 1 to 20.
The storm system will continue to pull out to sea and move into the open North Atlantic through Saturday, intensifying over the weekend southeast of Greenland with a barometric pressure rivaling that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Meanwhile, temperatures falling along a cold front Sunday may flip rain to a messy wintry mix in the Northeast, potentially leading to another round of inclement weather.