Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Historic East Coast Snowstorm

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
11:50 am

I think of my commitment to school like a sinusoidal function - specifically, a sine wave shifted 90 degrees to the right so that it becomes a cosine wave.

I tend to start off school hot. I'm well rested from summer, and I can't wait to get back into the swing of things. As the difficulty increases, my stress level increases, and unfortunately, I find myself procrastinating more, which makes things even worse. Still, all things considered, I'm doing pretty darn well autumn quarter. By the time finals come around, I notice an upswing in my performance, as I tend to perform well under pressure. Therefore, if we take the x axis (θ) to be time and the y axis (-1 to 1) to be my performance, you'll see that my performance is not a perfect sine wave - rather, a Fourier Series - i.e. a function that is an addition of a given number of sine waves - would be a better analogy. 

But when I get out of school for winter break, I'm absolutely exhausted, and I use that time to sleep. By that time, my performance has gone into the negative category - I'm not productive at all. It's not necessarily a bad thing - I need the rest - but I'm just not getting anything done.

The problem is that when winter quarter comes, I'm generally not yet ready to adjust back to the routine of actually doing work. It takes me a little while to get my stuff back together and be more productive. But now that we are 3 and a half weeks into the quarter, the sine wave now has a y-value above 0, and I'm ready to get back in business. And that begins with writing more weather blogs.


Combined day-night band and infrared satellite imagery from NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite of the storm at peak strength. Taken January 27, 2015 at 1:45 am EST

As many of you know, the Northeast just got absolutely clobbered by a giant snowstorm (it's been called Winter Storm Juno, but I personally think that names should be reserved for tropical systems). This storm was a "Nor'Easter," which is a type of storm that, well, not only effects the Northeast but travels to the northeast as well. The graphic below showing the track and intensity of the storm reflects this well.

Track and strength of the storm according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Blue = sustained winds of 39-73 mph (tropical storm force), yellow = sustained winds of 74-95 mph (category 1)

The storm had a peak low pressure of 970 hPa, which isn't unheard of but is still pretty darn strong. However, the real story with this storm was the tremendous snow amounts seen throughout the Northeast. Take a look at some of these totals! These were retrieved from Wikipedia from a list compiled from, the National Weather Service Eastern Region Headquarters, and the Tuanton, Massachusetts NWS Spotter Reports.

Amount (inches)City/locationState
24.4West GloucesterRI
24.0West BabylonNY
As you can see, Boston got over two feet of snow! New York City didn't as much, but their 9.8 inches are nothing to sneeze at. See the link for some excellent charts showing the snowfall distribution.

"Massachusetts-New Hampshire border during the January 2015 Nor'Easter" by Medeis - Cell phone capture taken at 11am in NE Massachusetts. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

"Thayer Street, Rhode Island during Juno" by RGloucester. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

"The storm touches down in St. John, New Brunswick on January 27" by CTV news. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.
"January 2015 Nor'Easter New York 08" by Krish Dulal. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

I could go on and on with pictures, but you get the idea. Unlike the lake-effect snowstorm that impacted south Buffalo earlier this winter, this storm impacted the entire eastern seaboard. While the snowfall totals were not as high as the extraordinary amounts witnessed in Buffalo, they were still extremely high for a region-wide storm. The most snow occurred in Massachusetts, but as the pictures above show, the storm had an extremely wide range. There were also pretty high winds with this storm - the peak gust reached 95 mph. This storm will definitely go down in history as one of the snowiest Nor'Easters to effect the Northeast in recent memory.


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