The blizzard of 2017 may have embarrassed New York weather forecasters by turning a much-hyped blizzard into a dreaded wintry mix, but elsewhere, it lived up to its full potential — and then some.
The storm dumped at least 20 inches of snow in 8 states, with a maximum snowfall of 42 inches recorded in West Winfield, New York, which is about 80 miles west of Albany.
Ilion, New York, picked up an even 3 feet (36 inches) of snow from this storm, and Binghamton wound up with 31.3 inches total. Albany had its largest March snowstorm on record, with 17 inches falling on Tuesday, while New York City managed to eke out 7.6 inches in Central Park, despite the changeover to heavy sleet at the height of the storm.
Huge snow totals were also recorded in Pennsylvania, where northeastern parts of the state were absolutely clobbered. Susquehanna had 32.3 inches, and Damascus recorded 30 inches of snow.
Burlington, Vermont had a little over 2 feet, with 28.7 inches, making it the 3rd-heaviest snowstorm on record there, according to the National Weather Service. As of Wednesday morning it was still snowing there, bringing them closer to nabbing the number 2 spot on the city’s top 10 all-time snowstorms list.
This blizzard was the heaviest snowfall on record in Binghamton, with 31.3 inches of snow and counting as of 1 a.m. ET on March 15. All that snow had fallen in just a 22-hour period, according to Weather Service data, and more is still falling on Wednesday.
It’s still snowing in some of these other locations, as well, so these totals may still go up.
The rate at which the snow fell is also impressive. Most — if not all — of the snow in the above locations fell in 24 hours or less, which is remarkable. According to weather.com, 7 inches of snow was recorded in just 1 hour in Ilion, New York, on Tuesday. And Binghamton received nearly a foot of snow in just 4 hours on Tuesday morning, which translates to an average snowfall rate of 3 inches per hour.
The storm also brought strong, damaging winds to coastal New England as it rapidly intensified and moved from Long Island to eastern Massachusetts. Wellfleet, Massachusetts, located on the outer part of Cape Cod, recorded a wind gust of 79 miles per hour, which was greater than hurricane force.
Wind gusts between 65 and 75 miles per hour were recorded from New Jersey to New York state as well.
Coastal flooding resulted from these strong winds pushing the ocean against the shore, particularly in New Jersey, where parts of Atlantic City flooded and moderate to major flooding occurred in other flood-prone locations as well.
Long-term sea level rise due to human-caused global warming is raising the odds of coastal flooding from storms like this, and making such flooding more severe.
Climate change has also led to an uptick in heavy precipitation events in the Northeast, both during the warm and cold seasons. This means that, on a more frequent basis, when it rains, it pours, and when it snows, it snows at a rapid clip.
While this storm is consistent with those trends, it was also an unusually powerful storm, which in itself is a rare event, and no formal climate attribution study analyzing its potential climate change links has been conducted on it yet.