The day-after Christmas snowstorm certainly was memorable for a number of reasons not the least of which is that it is the first significant snowstorm to affect such a wide area in two years. Last year’s winter was a non-event as far as all winter enthusiasts see it.
However, we did certainly note a very rapid diminution of the storm at about 7:00 P.M. Wednesday.
Travelers (especially those who had unfortunate run-ins with a ditch or another vehicle) would have an earful for you if you say this storm was a “dud.” We were fortunate that (#1) schools were out and (#2) the businesses that were open, sent their employees home early. Had schools been in session AND had all businesses been in full post-Holiday swing, the mess on Wednesday afternoon would have been unthinkable.
Yet, there are those that are legitimately asking why the storm suddenly stopped earlier than expected. To those whose question is legitimate, allow me to do a little post-game analysis.
The snow, which was coming down at the rate of 1-2″ per hour for much of the late afternoon in NEOhio suddenly lifted northeast into the I-90 corridor of the New York thruway on Wednesday night. This happened in response to two things that appeared to happen simultaneously.
#1: The primary low pressure system that was centered east of Lexington, Kentucky by late afternoon began to “open up.” Just like a skater who is spinning, slows down if her arms start to come out, the low started to “spin down.”
#2: That primary low was handing off the “energy baton” to a new storm center waiting for the hand-off near Cape Hatteras, NC. That hand-off occurred about three hours before most of us anticipated. Once that nearly instantaneous hand-off occurs, the primary storm center literally gets the “life” sucked out of it at the expense of the new coastal low. Had the hand-off occurred when we thought, the 1-2″ per hour snowfall rate would have continued until at least 9 P.M…. and that is the additional 3-6″ that was “stolen” from NEOhio.
Our snowfall totals did reach the 6-10″ totals in a wide swath, but COULD have been more like 8-14″ (the original forecast) had #1 and #2 occurred as we expected.
BTW, those very same reasons are why we never saw the gusts spool up to 40 M.P.H. Technically, we need gusts of 35 M.P.H. or more for 3 hours with visibilities under 1/4 mile to officially be recognized as “blizzard conditions.”
6-10″ was enough shoveling and snow-blowing for me. For those feeling gypped by that, don’t worry: Winter has just begun and it will not be like last year’s namby-pamby winter.