The “Historic” Blizzard of 2015 Ranked #41

February 1st, 2015 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

The numbers are in at the National Climate Data Center, and out of the top 55 snowstorms impacting the major population centers of the Northeast U.S., the January 2015 blizzard that blasted Boston ranked #41, or a weak “Category 2”.

Here’s the storm total snowfall map:

NESIS-20150125-20150128-2.62

By comparison, here’s the snowfall total map for the #1 storm, which occurred in mid-March 1993, a Cat 5 storm….note the map is zoomed out to encompass the amazingly large geographic extent of the heavy snowfall in that storm:

NESIS-19930312-19930314-13.20

The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.

So, the NESIS scale for Northeast snowstorms isn’t well suited for talking about climate change. It’s not clear that more snowstorms in recent decades aren’t just from a slight shift in the storm track bringing Northwest Atlantic winter storms (of which there are many…Greenland routinely gets clobbered) closer to New England.


51 Responses to “The “Historic” Blizzard of 2015 Ranked #41”

Toggle Trackbacks

  1. Winslow says:

    Who knew? I am not surprised at all. When we were younger, we tunneled through snow drifts and had a blast.
    Are the weather men and women on television really meteorologists?

    • Yes, but they are also performers who have to keep ratings up to keep their jobs.

    • Robert Wesolowski says:

      You were shorter when you were younger.
      The snow was not deeper.

      • Joe Loiacono says:

        At first i laughed. Then I realized you’re serious! (Still funny)

      • James says:

        I remember drifts covering our driveway that reached the gutters on the roof. Wesolowski thinks our houses were shorter too. I was in New London during the 1978 storm, but today’s news reporting is Chicken Little “the sky is falling”, so it HAS to be HISTORIC.

      • JohnFLob says:

        Robert:
        Please explain snow storms with accumulations so deep the snow plows could not clear the roads.

      • bill halsey says:

        Snow piled higher then because gravity was not as strong. Now that I am older gravity is stronger, pulling the snow down closer to the ground. That is why it is so hard for me to stand up after bending over. We had a 8′ chain link fence during the blizzard of 78 that was completely covered in snow drifts.

        • Lewis Guignard says:

          I have personal experience with the increasing stronger effects of gravity. Since the conventional wisdom attributes that to my advancing years, I had ignored facts. Surprisingly, this is not addressed by the IPCC.

  2. Gary H says:

    Wow the list at the NOAA link provided here doesn’t include any blizzards prior to 1958?

    From http://www.livescience.com/31880-countdown-10-worst-blizzards.html, we find that there is actually a bit more history available (most of which would be prior to the consensus view of the birth of AGW – 1950ish).

    1988 New England – 400 died – over 50 inches
    1989 New Entland blizzard
    1913 – Great Lakes – the White Hurricane – 250 dead
    1888 – Nebraska – the Children’s Blizzard – 235 dead
    1950 – Great Appalachian Storm – 353 dead
    1922 – The Knickerbocker Storm – 98 dead – 3 ft of snow
    1940 – Armistice Day storm – Midwest – 20 ft drifts – 145 dead

    As Gov Andrew Cuomo would volunteer – we didn’t have blizzards before AGW

  3. Ron says:

    These computer “models” didn’t accurately predict the outcome a day before the storm, and we expect them to work 30 years out predicting Global Climate Change??

  4. did they forget the blizzard of 1978

  5. Sharpshooter says:

    “Societal Impact” is also how many disorganization’s measure hurricane intensity.

    So eighty years ago, when Florida and the Gulf Coast were unpopulated swamps, there we no intense hurricanes./sarc

    • jimc says:

      “Outrage”, “social justice”, “empower”, “offended”, “fairness”, “climate change”, ”security”, “privacy”, “diversity”, etc. – magical phrases that can mean anything the arbiters of opinion (and law and regulation) want. Now “societal impact”?

  6. GIVEMEFREEDOM says:

    The statistics I WANT TO SEE are
    1) how many times the computer models are way off.
    2) how many times all the news stations coverage is in lock
    step starting with CNN
    3) how many times We the People suffered because we wasted
    time and resources preparing for a storm which never came.

  7. Boca Grandee says:

    I am so so proud of those commenting here. It just shows one that all the people can not be fooled all the time.

    • crobert00 says:

      You would be surprised to find that most people can agree on a lot. The mass media likes to portray us as individuals with equal rights and freedoms but we are in this as a whole. We are stronger as a group and that is why the government, media, marketing conglomerates want to convince you that you are too small as a single person and must give up your vote to some clown to represent you… well how about we represent ourselves? I think we can all agree with that part.

  8. MDS says:

    and recall that the Southeast in March ’93 storm had inches of rain before the snow began….

  9. geran says:

    Two meaningful quotes:

    “The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.”

    “Yes, but they are also performers who have to keep ratings up to keep their jobs.”

    • Ric Werme says:

      I’ve heard a few TV Mets grouse about news directors leaning on them to keep it interesting, especially when the station has gone to full time coverage.

      The worst events I recall were for a tropical storm tracking just south of Boston when it was clear things were winding down and after John Kennedy’s plane went down in the ocean south of Cape Cod due to dusk and not due to weather.

    • Gunga Din says:

      “The ranking is based upon societal impacts, so if the worst storm on Earth in the last 10,000 years hit where no one lived, it would not even rank.”

      I’m reminded of when the movie Titanic came out. It made headlines for breaking the box office gross record set by Gone With The Wind. But when the numbers are adjusted for inflation and the box office is divided by ticket price, more people went to the theater to see Gone With the Wind and it had a larger gross. But Gone With the Wind wasn’t being promoted at the time. Titanic was.

      “Yes, but they are also performers who have to keep ratings up to keep their jobs.”

      I do miss the old The Weather Channel.
      They didn’t get their ratings by putting on a show.
      They got their ratings by providing information people wanted (and often) needed to know…even if they didn’t live in New York or Atlanta.

  10. Philip says:

    In memory of the 28 million caught in the path of the flurries.

    • Tom Piperson says:

      …or the 28 million snowflakes pushed aside for no better reason than they fell in someone’s path. ;-}

  11. We got about 26″ and had drifts over 6ft in South East Connecticut. Not the most we have ever had but the drifts were rough.

  12. Ric Werme says:

    I live just north of Concord NH, this storm lived up to one of my rules of thumb – we don’t get big snowstorms unless it rains in Boston. We’re too far from the Atlantic and I suspect the geometry of the storm gives us a long overland fetch.

    From the forecast I thought this might be an exception, but another event may have interfered. The wind direction at home changed from the east to the northwest thanks to high pressure feeding down the cold air that fed part of the storm. That’s also a dry wind direction, I suspect that it flowed past us, sublimating snow in the air, then convected into a snow band that was east of me. That convection brought heavy snow to that area, and dried out both the newly moistened NW flow and the offshore flow leaving little for me in the flow aloft.

    Forecast – 18″, measured – 8.5″. The CoCoRaHS maps for the 28th show the snow band pretty well, I’m NH-MR-33.

    http://data.cocorahs.org/cocorahs/maps/?country=usa&state=nh

  13. maria flutura says:

    At least, Juno allowed plenty interesting images to make, 01/26/15: http://climate-ocean.com/2015/L/_10.jpg , more : http://climate-ocean.com/2015/L.html

  14. JUNO was a severe storm, their ranking are meaningless because they should be based on only one factor which is the intensity of the storm.

  15. RW says:

    I remember the March 1993 storm, as I was a junior in high school and I remember it was unusual to get such a large storm so late in the year. At the time, I lived in Northwest NJ. I didn’t know though that that was the #1 impactful storm.

  16. Tones says:

    I wish there was a study on media induced frenzy over a storm. This storm would rank #1.

  17. Ash Land says:

    Don’t listen to the Global Warming Propagandists. That is, demagogues like idiot Obama who knows nothing except liberal talking points. Obama is a lazy jack-as, he never stops to think. he says what he likes and then find political talking points and cliché for justification.

    Now , be careful. Know that CO2 concentration has increased 40%. We do not know if this will cause a rise or a fall or have no impact to global temperatures. What we know is that we should not be spending billions and trillions for a minor or made-up problem. So Vote out Propagandist (that is liberals) and vote in conservatives who are realists and will protect the planet and our freedoms and our property.

  18. jimmy says:

    fuck the weather channel!

  19. myron monk says:

    The corrupt leftists of the legacy newsfotainment media are not above a little (or a lot!) of hyperbole. It sells advertising… and helps get their propaganda out.

  20. BulSprig says:

    Left wing propagandists even fail to recognize that global temps are not rising, there falling. Since 1995 global temp has fallen 1.205C.
    Our only hope is folks in the northeast vote dem out,coservative repubs in.Not likely to happen.
    As for Wesolowsky, he be “Out to Lunch”. As a child in N.E.Ohio I can attest to far deeper snows, and substantially older temps.I remember ice skating on a county lake,which had around 20 acres set up for skating.
    In a normal year we skated, and ice fished until mid to late Feb.
    Food for thought, the 20th century was the wettest Century of the previous 25 centurys. Data from 2500 yr. old Giant Sequoia trees. The oldest living biological entity on earth. That abundent moisture was likely caused by parriclate pollution. Talk about paradox, wouldn’t it be wild if the current droughts were exacerbated by air being too clean?

  21. BulSprig says:

    Left wing propagandists even fail to recognize that global temps are not rising, there falling. Since 1995 global temp has fallen 1.205C.
    Our only hope is folks in the northeast vote dem out,coservative repubs in.Not likely to happen.
    As for Wesolowsky, he be “Out to Lunch”. As a child in N.E.Ohio I can attest to far deeper snows, and substantially older temps.I remember ice skating on a county lake,which had around 20 acres set up for skating.
    In a normal year we skated, and ice fished until mid to late Feb.
    Food for thought, the 20th century was the wettest Century of the previous 25 centurys. Data from 2500 yr. old Giant Sequoia trees. The oldest living biological entity on earth. That abundent moisture was likely caused by parriclate pollution. Talk about paradox, wouldn’t it be wild if the current droughts were exacerbated by air being too clean?

  22. RobS says:

    I found it funny they used the term “Snopaclypse” again — as they had just used this in December 2009. This time, New Jersey gets 8″ of snow and everyone is talking a big game. Just a few years ago, North Carolina had 8″ of snow, and Philadelphia had over 20″, with New York and points north getting even more.

    Just amazing how less than half of what was a big storm in the past gets all kinds of amazing news.

  23. Kenneth J Roberts says:

    In 1952 I remember the granddaddy of all snowstorms and we had snow piled as high as half our house which is pretty deep as we had a two story home then. I also remember 1978 as I walked two miles in the blizzard to get some food and milk for the neighbors baby. I had a parka and a quilt and stayed fairly warm till I got back . My van ran into a drift about as high as the van I could not see it everything was white. The baby was fed and we did not starve.

  24. Kat says:

    Dear All!

    Thank you so much for all the information and the refreshing comments. I don’t feel isolated anymore!

  25. Gary says:

    A shift of 50 miles in the storm track can double the snowfall. Depending on temperature differences of just a few degrees along the coast the snow can be light and fluffy or wet and heavy. Snowfall amount alone is a poor metric for storm ranking.

  26. ren says:

    Winter forecast for Europe and the north-east America. 15 km polar vortex.
    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat_a_f/gif_files/gfs_z100_nh_f120.gif

  27. Thanks, Dr. Spencer.
    A wider perspective helps understanding what is really happening.

  28. NoFreeWind says:

    Snowfall was measured differently in the past which makes the recent snowfall totals seem higher.
    http://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/perspective/14009/snowfall-measurement-flaky-history

    • dave says:

      “Snowfall was measured differently in the past…”

      According to the article, underestimating historic falls by some 17%.