3A.1 Northeast Snowstorms Volume 3: The 21st Century Update

Monday, 23 January 2017: 4:00 PM
Conference Center: Tahoma 3 (Washington State Convention Center )
Paul J. Kocin, NOAA/NWS/NCEP, College Park, MD; and L. W. Uccellini

Since the publication of Northeast Snowstorms, Volumes 1 and 2 in 2004, many interesting winter seasons and winter storms across the heavily populated Northeast Coast have occurred, resulting in a very memorable period that more than justifies an update of the original monograph.  This period has included the Blizzard of January 2005, New York City’s Record Snow of February 2006, the back to back record winters of 2009-2010, including 3 major snowstorms from December thru February highlighted by the dual blizzards of February 2010 that crippled the Washington-Baltimore-Philadelphia urban corridor.  This same winter also saw an unusual westward moving storm in late February that left more than 20 inches in New York City.  The following winter was no less significant including the Boxing Day Blizzard in December 2010 and several significant snowstorms from the Middle Atlantic states to New England.

In more recent years, the once in a lifetime October 2011 snowstorm produced more snow in one storm than in a 100 or more of previous Octobers!  Then, Superstorm Sandy in late October 2012 also produced its share of snowfall especially in West Virginia. The back to back winters of 2013/14 and 2014/15 were significantly colder and snowy than seasonal averages, including the incredible onslaught of major snowstorms in January and February 2015 that crippled eastern New England with four storms yielding greater than 16 inches in Boston that resulted in the snowiest period in history.  Finally, during the relatively lackluster winter of 2015-2016, one of the most significant and well forecast snowstorms on record produced record snow on January 22 and 23, leaving the newest heaviest snowfall record in New York City and shutting down an area that is home to many tens of millions of people.

All of these periods and more are covered in depth in the updated monograph, with an emphasis on an updated climatology that includes this significant period, as well as detailed meteorological descriptions of these and other storms.  This talk will focus on the recent advances in analyzing and predicting such storms as part of the National Weather Service, and within NCEP’s Weather Prediction Center.  These issues include the expanding role of probabilistic ensemble forecasting, the introduction of new datasets such as dual pol radar and high resolution forecast models,  as well as enhanced collaboration between National and NWS forecasters and their roles in providing consistent information to decision makers that include Emergency managers, the media  and the public.  The talk will also focus on the professional and personal journeys of the two authors as exemplified by the January 22 Blizzard of 2016, which was consistently forecast up to 8 to 10 days in advance, noting the slow but steady progress (as well as missteps) in the ability to predict these important phenomena.

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