The Not Really A Blizzard Blizzard

Basically there was so much wind the snow was blown into drifts which had the effect of compacting the snow.

I am bushed! I know my job isn’t physical labor, but today it was very draining. I started around 1:00 PM and went until 11:35 PM.

A lot of people do a whole lot more. How do you do that?

From a meteorologist’s standpoint today was very interesting. I know now there’s no way I could have predicted snow accumulations accurately. I think most people caught on to that viscerally. Basically there was so much wind the snow was blown into drifts which had the effect of compacting the total.

This is one of those cases where one plus one doesn’t equal two! It was possible to have an inch of snow one hour, an additional inch the next and end up with under an inch of snow!

How many feathers does it take to fill a bag? Similar quandary.

The wind was… still is at this hour… crazy. We seldom get 50 or 60 mph winds, but we did tonight and they were widespread.

I spent the my time on the air telling people to stay off the roads, but by the time I left the building the snow had temporarily let up and I made a dash for the house in Helaine’s 4WD SUV.

I took city streets instead of my usual missile flight up I-91. The main streets were plowed but very slippery. Once I turned onto the squiggly road that climbs my hill things became a little more dicey. The last half mile to my house had no visible tire tracks!

By the way, I stopped the car to take these photos. With all of you at home stopping in-the-middle of the road was no problem. Thanks.

Actually, I take that back. At one stop I had a little difficulty regaining my traction. A quick shift to reverse and a few feet of rollback solved the problem.

We had blizzard warnings tonight and certifiably rotten conditions. What we didn’t have (as I warned in a post a few days ago) was a blizzard! The official parameters are so stringent I’m not sure we ever could!

Maybe blizzard needs to be redefined.

13 thoughts on “The Not Really A Blizzard Blizzard”

  1. This storm was a bust!

    Haha just kidding. On my deck right now in Bethel it measures 18″, don’t know how much of that is drift from the roof. This is a great sendoff before I move across the country!

  2. Brave man Geoff…It was comforting to see you do the weather on tonights news casts; given the crazy snow, wind, and unpredictability of this type of storm!
    Glad you made it home safe and sound to cuddle with your loved one. I am sure Helaine never gets used to you driving in “crazy weather”, and we appreciate her sacrifice!
    Sleep well.

  3. Dont folks in North Dakota or Alaksa…Illnois….get this weather on a weekly basis? hmm. They must be laughing at us like we might do to Mississippi when they freak out over an inch of snow. hmm. G’nite Geoff, great article!

    1. Tori – You have to remember Connecticut is a hilly state. Buffalo, where I spent a few winters, is reasonably flat. Big difference!

  4. Tori is right – this would be easier to handle where it is more common, and folks prepare for it. For example, this kind of light dry snow in heavy amounts with heavy winds is well managed by snow fence in prairie areas in the farming areas of the Midwest and Canada. Snow fences allow farmers to specify where they want the snow to accumulate, like the sand fences we see on beaches here. What’s amazing about this storm is how low the pressure dropped – my little weather station was beeping alarms, and the pressure dropped as if it was a hurricane or tornado. But this snow was unusual for Connecticut, as it was very light and dry. When it started, ground temps were well below freezing, and upper air temps seemed low to me, although Geoff would know more about that.

  5. Hi Geoff,

    Islip easily met blizzard criteria. Check out yesterday evening’s obs:

    I wrestled with calling it a blizzard in Providence because I couldn’t find an observation in our DMA that met the criteria. In the end, I called it a blizzard because of what happened in Islip and elsewhere. I figured it was similar to if a hurricane was just offshore. We would be in a hurricane warning, but strict hurricane criteria may not be met at all observation stations.


    1. I think most people are happy with “blizzard.” I have no problem with calling it that.

      In many ways it’s like straight line thunderstorm winds. If you want to say it was a tornado that knocked down your trees, fine.

      For us, at least, the criteria for blizzard seems to stringent. There are a few conditions where the Weather Service allows variable criteria depending on location.

  6. Geoff,

    As for your comment about it being “breezy” tonight, how about coming up to our house and listening to the freight train that’s been going past our house continuously since yesterday. While we’re doing that we can watch the snow drift back across my driveway and walks! Later we’ll take you up to Goshen so you can see the 8 to 12 foot snowdrifts on route 4.

    Sounds like fun,

    Mike and Celeste Mazaik

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