84th AMS Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2004
A multi-scale analysis of the end of the millennium snowstorm
Room 4AB
Thomas A. Wasula, NOAA/NWS, Albany, NY; and A. C. Wasula and L. F. Bosart
Poster PDF (1.1 MB)
On 30-31 December 2000, a major snowstorm struck the Northeast, dropping copious amounts of snowfall over the region. This major nor’easter produced widespread snowfall accumulations of 25 cm (10 inches) and greater across eastern New York, New Jersey, the extreme eastern border of Pennsylvania and adjacent New England in 10 to 15 hours. Portions of the eastern Catskill Mountains in New York, and northern New Jersey received 50 to 75 cm (20 to 30 inches) of snow from the storm with many daily snowfall records set across the Northeast. Although, little or no snow fell across most of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland (including Washington D.C), major cities such as Trenton, Newark, New York City, Albany and Hartford were hit very hard. Snowfall rates of 5 cm to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) per hour were common with the storm north and west of the area of low pressure due to an intense mesoscale snow band located north and west of the area of low pressure. Near-blizzard conditions occurred at times with high winds in excess of 15 to 20 ms-1 (30 to 40 kt). The storm wreaked havoc on travelers on the last weekend before the dawn of a new millennium.

The synoptic situation at 0000Z/30 December 2000 featured an area of low pressure (1012 hPa) moving eastward through eastern Ohio, while a second low was situated 250-300 km (400-500 mi) southeast of North Carolina. By 0600Z/30, a new coastal low of 1004 hPa had formed (much further north than anticipated by forecasters) near the Delmarva Peninsula. By 1200Z/30, this surface low was about 200 km (325 mi) southeast of Atlantic City, and heavy snow began falling across most of northern New Jersey and the New York City metropolitan area. By 1500Z/30, heavy snow was falling along the east facing slopes of the Catskills and was pushing rapidly north into east central New York and western New England. The surface low (995 hPa) moved over New York City by 1800Z/30 and then progressed rapidly to the northeast to the Connecticut-Rhode Island border (992 hPa) at 0000Z/31. This strong surface cyclone developed due in part to a powerful 500 hPa low that barreled southeastward through the Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic states on the morning of 30 December.

This poster will focus on an investigation of the evolution of the large scale pattern associated with the snowstorm. The storm will be examined from a potential vorticity perspective, including a comprehensive analysis of 'dynamic tropopause' maps. Additionally, the role of upper and lower level jet streaks will also be investigated. The planetary scale teleconnection indices will be examined before, during and after the storm (e.g., North American Oscillation, Pacific North American index). Data used in this analysis will include ECMWF grids, surface observations, upper air data, satellite imagery, and radar data.

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