The Blizzard of 2016, or Winter Storm Jonas, the storm that we will be talking about for decades to come will go down as one of the biggest storms in the history of the United States.
The rumors all started to stir about a possible big Winter Storm the weekend before (January 16th/17th) when Josh made a post referring to a possible large to storm to impact the region, a whole 5 days in advance.
To the average viewer, this storm might of seemed to go as planned for all the meteorologists and weather enthusiasts out there. It was not as easy it seemed. Throughout the week, the GFS and Canadian model were showing a massive storm to hit the area, while the European model suggested it would stay south 72 hours from impact. The Euro model is statistically the most accurate weather model there is. This caused many news outlets and weather pages to be cautious about bringing the heavier snows into PA. Josh stuck with his gut, however. After analyzing the upper air pattern and looking at ensemble guidance, Josh was convinced at least the southern half of Pennsylvania would be hit hard with this storm.
It is Tuesday Evening, prior to the blizzard hitting, guidance was split on whether our area sees 2 feet of snow or 2 inches of snow. With Josh’s instinct and analysis of the upper air pattern, he came out with his first call. He called for over 20 inches in much of Southern PA and a bit less as you head North. This map caused heads to turn as people began to call it hype..or saying nobody else is saying anything about it…but Josh remained confident.
Now it is Wednesday…Winter Storm Watches begin to be hoisted for PA and blizzard watches for Baltimore and DC. People begin to take our word a bit more seriously. A powerful winter storm was taking aim right towards PA. During this time, PA Weather Action’s popularity sky rockets as word goes around of a major winter storm 48 hours away. Josh sticks with his call of a potentially historic Winter Storm that Wednesday Evening.
As Thursday rolled around, it became clear that an area from Central Virginia through Northern Maryland would be the bulls-eye from this storm. What was not clear, was how far north the snowfall would really go into PA. For an example, the early Thursday Morning of the European model, had Harrisburg only getting 4 inches, while the GFS and NAM model were hinting at 20 inches of snowfall. Mind you we are less than 36 hours from impact and the models were simply clueless. A prime reason why it is important to never base a forecast off of just model guidance…understanding the 500mb pattern wins every time.
Friday was the day that Josh and I were convinced we were going to be in for an incredible storm. With the storm developing to that south, we could see on radar and at the upper levels that this storm was a bit further north than predicted…excellent news to the snow lovers out there. As the day went on Josh upped the snowfall amounts for all of PA. The snow started between lunch time and dinner time for most of us. Throughout the evening and night, the snow picked up in intensity and for many of us, by midnight, there was already several inches of snow on the ground.
Saturday, the bulk of the storm arrived. The National Weather Service raised their snow totals so high, it was something I never saw before in my life. They raised totals to a widespread 24 to 30 inch snowfall amounts, with pockets of 30 to 36 inch amounts. This was a huge win for them as well. Because most of us only had between 3 and 6 inches of snowfall by then. As the day went on, snowfall rates were steadily climbing. Snow rates were between 1 and 3 inches of snowfall per hour for several hours! Simply incredible. The snowfall ended for the majority of us between 6 PM and 10 PM Saturday Night.
Below is the final snow totals throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Historic….
Many of our cars looked like this by Saturday Evening….
The next image is showing snow plows, plowing the streets of Harrisburg, but instead of plowing like they normally would, they are emptying the snow into the back of trucks. These trucks then empty the snow onto City Island. Why? Because there is literally no more room to put the snow in the streets of Harrisburg.
What about the coastal areas? Many of us forget that the beaches anywhere from Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey took a huge hit with massive beach erosion and flooding. Some beaches took a harder hit than Hurricane Sandy…max wind gusts hit the 75 mph mark, which is also low-end hurricane criteria. So yes this could technically be called a snowicane. One of the beaches that was hit hard by the blizzard was popular Ocean City, Maryland.
The blizzard of 2016, Winter Storm Jonas, whatever you want to call it, was a once in a 50 to 100 year storm. And in some cases, the top storm ever recorded. Lets try to get this hashtag trending on Twitter or Facebook… #ISurvivedTheBlizzardOf2016 or #ISurvivedWinterStormJonas.
Luckily, PA will not have to deal with any significant Winter Storm for at least the next week. The late week potential remains well out to sea.
Happy to be apart of such a wonderful site with Josh. I am 19 years old and have been tracking the weather since the young age of 5! My goal is to give you all the most reliable and accurate information regarding the weather to my best ability!