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Historical New Jersey Snow Storms

The Blizzard in December of 1960

The Blizzard of 1960

The Blizzard of 1960 dumped heavy snow on the coastal plain. Low pressure transferred to North Carolina/OBX and turned northeastward over the ocean. As indicated on this map from NOAA, this storm put down 20 inches of snow in many New Jersey locations. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina)

The Blizzard in February of 1961

The Blizzard of 1961

The 1961 blizzard put down substantial accumulation across all of Northern New Jersey. The most memorable aspect of this storm was the temperature that persisted almost 3 weeks afterward. Temperatures struggled to climb out of the teens and 20s keeping most of the snow around for a long time. Many New Jersey locations recorded accumulations of 24 inches or greater from this storm. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina).

The Blizzard in February of 1967

The Blizzard of 1967

This storm put down a lot of snow across all of New Jersey.  A low pressure system approached from the west and transferred to the coast near OBX before turning up the coast and dragging more cold air in. Many parts of New Jersey saw 20 inches of snow from this storm. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina).

The Lindsay Storm in February of 1969

The Lindsay Storm of 1969

The Lindsay Storm of 1969 is named so after Mayor John Lindsay.  He ended up taking lots of public criticism due to the fact that NYC roads remained unplowed for a week after the storm hit. This was primarily a NENJ and NYC storm as many in that region saw 20 inches or more. Judging by the snowmap, it was a late phasing coastal low pressure system, a New England Special if you will. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina) transitioning to Negative (El Nino).

The Blizzard in February of 1978

The Blizzard of 1978

The Blizzard of 1978 primarily affected Long Island and New England but left a heavy footprint of snow in New Jersey as well. The most memorable aspect of this storm was its duration and winds.  It was a 24-36 hour snow storm for most with winds that approached hurricane strength. Many reports of thundersnow from intense mesoscale banding were recorded during this storm as well. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

The Megalopolitan Snowstorm in February of 1983

Megalopolitan Snowstorm of 2-11-1983

The Megalopolitan Snowstorm of 1983 occurred during the strongest negative measured SOI values (El Nino) of last century.

Back-to-Back Snow Storms in January of 1987

NOAA January 1987 Snow Storm 1 of 2

NOAA January 1987 Snow Storm 2 of 2

In January of 1987, back-to-back snow storms occurred in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.  The first storm was further north and happened on January 21-23 while the second was further south and happened on January 25-26. Both storms dumped a widespread 10-12 inches of snow yielding 20-24 inches of snow in a 5-6 day period.  When all was said and done, the entire state of New Jersey saw at least a foot of snow. According to temperature records, lows stayed at 20F or below for both storms. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

 

The Superstorm Blizzard in March of 1993

The snow superstorm of March 1993

This storm was a late winter treat for the snow lover. Most storms for New Jersey happen in the December-February period but this storm was in a class of its own.  It was a classic Miller-A (originating in the Gulf of Mexico) that tracked up the eastern US coast (aka coastal hugger).  Because of this track, areas along the eastern seaboard and just inland saw less snow than those further NW. Several reports of 30 inches plus were confirmed.  This storm affected the entire coast including Florida with vicious thunderstorms and tornadic activity. I was 13 years old at the time and will never forget this storm as long as I live. You could argue that this storm brought modern meteorology into the spotlight as computer models did better predicting it than traditional charts. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

 

The Blizzard in January of 1996

The Blizzard of January 1996

Now this storm I remember very well.  I was 16 years old and it shut down my town & school district for almost a week. Many New Jersey locations saw 20 inches plus from this storm. The low tracked very close to the benchmark (a geographic location of 40N/70W). Storms that track near the benchmark have a better chance at affecting NJ & the I-95 corridor big cities which is exactly what this storm did.  Two feet of snow was dumped from DC through Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. A foot of snow fell all the way southeast to the Jersey Shore as well. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino) transitioning to Positive (La Nina).

 

The President’s Weekend Blizzard in February of 2003

The President's Weekend Blizzard in February of 2003

This was one of the most historical snow storms in Southern New Jersey.  My hometown of Manahawkin saw about 2 and 1/2 feet of snow from this event. Unlike the Miller-A storms (March 93 & Jan 1996), this storm was a Miller-B (low approaches from the west and transfers to a coastal low off of the Delmarva Peninsula which then moves northeast.  So its an energy transfer but the coastal low still passed near the benchmark. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

The Blizzard in February of 2006

The Blizzard of 2006

This storm was a classic miller-a storm.  A low pressure system formed in the southeast US and tracked up the east coast over the benchmark (40N/70W). The NENJ/NYC Metro area recorded 20 inches or greater of accumulated snowfall. This storm set a record in NY for highest accumulated snowfall that was held since the Great Blizzard of 1947. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina) transitioning to Negative (El Nino).

The Blizzard in December of 2009

The Blizzard in December of 2009

The December 2009 snow storm was my first successful call as weather enthusiast.  This storm was modeled out to sea until about 24-36 hours beforehand.  It quickly became a miller-a snow storm for the Mid-Atlantic and coastal New England. This marked the first great snow storm in a series of coastal snow storms that left NEPA and NY State with very little accumulations at all. Philadelphia and Eastern Long Island saw the jackpot accumulations of 20 inches or more from this system but most of New Jersey (SE of I-95) saw at least 12 inches of snow. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina).

Back-to-Back Snow Storms in early February of 2010

February 2 2010 Snow StorFebruary 2 2010 Snow Storm

Snow storm of February 10 2010

The first 2 weeks of February 2010 were crazy in New Jersey.  First a snow storm came through and dumped 20-30 inches of snow on Southern New Jersey on February 6 and then another that dumped 10-20 on Central New Jersey on February 10. Occurring less than 2 months after the December 19, 2009 snowstorm crowned winter of 09-10 as one of the snowiest winter’s for New Jersey in modern history. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina) transitioning to Negative (El Nino).

 

The Snowicane blizzard in late February of 2010

2010 02 25 Snow Storm

As if February of 2010 wasn’t snowy enough already, another snow storm came through in late February that filled in the Northern New Jersey gap with 20-30 inches of snow.  Between the three storms in February of 2010, the entire state saw at least 18-24 inches of snow. This storm, however, was a powerhouse low pressure system that stalled for a long period near Long Island, NY. The result of that stall was 30-40 inches of snow for interior NY State. Because the low was so perfectly concentric on satellite, it looked like a white hurricane, hence the nickname snowicane. Again, this finished up the snowiest February in New Jersey in modern history and made winter 09-10 a season to remember. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Positive (La Nina) transitioning to Negative (El Nino).

 

The Boxing Day Blizzard in December of 2010

Boxing Day Blizzard

This storm was not modeled to hit the east coast until last minute (within 24-48 hours).  Watching the mainstream media rapidly increase their snow totals as the storm approached was actually kind of funny. What was initially modeled as out to sea took a last minute NW shift resulting in the coastal regions of NJ getting 20-30 inches of snow dumped on them. In NYC, they were actually dumping snow into the rivers because there was no place to pile it up. Interior NJ, PA, and NY State were jealous of the snow however the coastal plain was paralyzed with snow cover. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

 

The Snow Storm in January of 2011

2011 01 26

This was one of the last snow storms that dumped over 18 inches of snow in parts of Central and Northern New Jersey. While not as crippling as some of the other historical storms listed, it certainly shut the state down for a few days. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for this period was: Negative (El Nino).

I hope you have enjoyed what I have put together here. At the very least, hopefully you can use it as a quick reference in the future so go ahead and bookmark it! If you compare the frequency of storms happening for any one month, February takes the cake for having the most historical storms.  January comes in second but December definitely comes in third. I wonder when the next storm will be added to this blog post. As always, be safe…

Jonathan Carr
SevereNJwx

All images courtesy of NOAA.

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