For the second time in a week, a winter storm plastered much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with plowable snow. It snarled travel and added a fresh blanket to areas already grappling with removing what fell on Monday. The same storm left a dose of winter in parts of the Mid-South and Tennessee Valley, where some regions saw their heaviest snow in five years.
While the storm wasn’t a blockbuster in terms of amounts, snowfall rates along the Interstate 95 corridor were expected to briefly approach or exceed two inches per hour. That surpassed the capacity of what road crews could handle, making for treacherous travel and, in some locales, grinding traffic to a halt.
The Northeast is also carefully eyeing another system Sunday that, while primarily wet, could end with a fleeting dash of frozen precipitation. It will be followed by a bitter blast of Arctic air, the coldest of the winter.
The snow was winding down in eastern New England along the Boston to Providence corridor around 10 a.m., with bands of moderate to heavy snow still pivoting southeast over Cape Cod and the Islands. Some ocean-effect snow will linger over the Mid-Cape and Outer Cape through 2 or 3 p.m. before the system withdraws into the Gulf of Maine. Snow was also falling in Downeast Maine and Nova Scotia.
Winter storm warnings were to expire in eastern New England at 4 p.m. with predicted storm totals of four to eight inches from Providence to Portland.
The storm’s performance came in multiple acts, first as an overachieving round of heavy snow that slipped through the Mid-South on Thursday.
Nashville picked up 6.3 inches, Music City’s greatest calendar-day snowfall since Jan. 22, 2016 and the 12th most on record to fall in a single day. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center even hoisted a “mesoscale discussion” Thursday to address the potential for “rates on the order of 1-2+ inches per hour.”
Lexington, Ky. received 9.9 inches, their seventh greatest single-day snowfall on record; bookkeeping there dates back to 1887.
West Virginia tallied double digit snowfalls, such as in East Birlington, where 10.7 inches was measured. Davis, Pa. also matched that reading. Charleston, W. Va. reported 8.3 inches, its snowiest day since 2016.
Ski areas in the central Appalachians were slammed. Fourteen inches fell near Canaan Valley, W. Va.
A general two to four inches was expected from Washington to New York City, but the storm overperformed, especially north of Washington, thanks to a narrow band of heavy snow. Washington received 2.6 inches, putting it over nine inches for the week, and Frederick, Md., which largely missed out on Monday’s storm, was dealt 5.5 inches in this system.
As of 7 a.m., La Guardia Airport in the Big Apple had 8.4 inches on the ground, while nearby Bridgeport, Conn. sat beneath 8.2 inches. Central Park in New York was closing in on a half foot, and Newark was up to five inches. Higganum, Conn., about 15 miles south of Hartford near Middletown, topped the charts with 11 inches as of 6:43 a.m.
Around New York City, it was the first significant snowfall of the winter.
The snow was tapering down southwest to northeast, but not before making the morning commute a nightmare for those unable to work from home in central and eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. Interstates 95, 495 and 128 were all moving slowly as late as 11 a.m. Friday; traffic was in rough shape all the way up to Bangor, Maine.
“Well, the snowfall has over performed, especially in the mesoscale snow band that developed early this morning,” wrote the National Weather Service in Boston in their morning technical forecast discussion. They had been predicting a maximum of four to eight inches, but Norwood and Mendon had eclipsed 10 inches by sunrise. Cool temperatures filtering into the region on the back side of the system contributed to a greater fluff factor with the snow, and liquid to snow ratios of 1 to 20.
The storm system will continue to pull out to sea and move into the open north Atlantic through Saturday, intensifying over the weekend southeast of Greenland with a barometric pressure rivaling that of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Meanwhile, temperatures falling along a cold front Sunday may flip rain to a messy wintry mix in the Northeast, potentially leading to another round of inclement weather.