WMO GCW home

Interesting Events

Here we describe recent, rapid changes in the cryosphere that are newsworthy. They may or may not be significant in a climate context.

Major U.S. East Coast Snowstorm, January 2016

J. Key, 26 Jan 2016

A major winter storm pummeled the East Coast of the United States 22-23 January 2016. The storm was unofficially dubbed "Snowzilla" in the Washington DC area and called "Winter Storm Jonas" by the Weather Channel. It left over 100 cm (1 m, 42 in) of snow in some areas, with at least 14 states receiving 30 cm (1 ft) or more. The storm paralyzed a number of major U.S. cities including Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. Winds were strong, with gusts up to 3 m/s (85 mph) and sustained winds up to 26 m/s (58 mph) in some areas. A number of deaths were attributed to the storm, and over 11000 flights were cancelled. The storm caused a surge of water, not unlike that of a hurricane, which flooded streets and eroded beaches.

Snow totals from the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Eastern Region.

Surface pressure (hPa) from the NOAA Global Forecast System (GFS) model (from the Washington Post and Tropicaltidbits.com)

Water vapor satellite imagery over the life of the storm. (CIMSS/University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Washington Post)

Snow cover across the eastern United States following the Blizzard of 2016 from the Suomi NPP VIIRS instrument. (CIMSS/University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Snow fraction across the United States on 24 January 2016 from the "Enterprise" VIIRS snow fraction product. Grey areas are cloudy so there is no snow retrieval. (Courtesy of P. Romanov)