Jan 25 2015
Epic Blizzard of 2015 Will Bring More Than Snow to New York
Photo credit: Ben Britten  via Creative Commons
January 25, 2015
Epic Blizzard of 2015 Will Bring More Than Snow to New York

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Environment

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Looks like the Farmer’s Almanac may have gotten it right again: a blizzard of historic proportions is on track to hit southern New England and the northern mid-Atlantic, including New York City and Boston, beginning sometime tomorrow evening.

It’s predicted that snow could fall at a rate of two to four inches per hour, and three-day snow totals could reach 24-36 inches. The New York National Weather Service said to expect gusts to 50 mph in New York City, with brief gusts up to hurricane force on Eastern Long Island. This could create massive snow drifts and white-out conditions.

But it’s not just snow. Localities should prepare for major flooding, inundation, and erosion, too. As Slate reports:

“In addition to the snow and wind, the NWS warns that coastal storm surge could reach four feet in Western Long Island Sound and in Eastern Massachusetts—that’s on top of 10- to 15-foot waves, which would be big enough to damage coastal properties. If you live on the waterfront, it’s probably best to treat this storm more like a close brush with a tropical storm or hurricane.”

In fact, the NWS in Boston has predicted that the strength of this storm “could produce one or more new inlets along exposed east and northeast facing barrier beaches.” Yikes.

Update 1/26/15: A Coastal Flood Warning has been issued for parts of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx during overnight hours. A Coastal Flood Advisory is in effect for parts of Manhattan and Staten Island overnight.

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Forecasted wind gusts for Tuesday. Image via NBC.

So, could this storm make the top 10 in terms of snowfall here in New York City? Possibly—and it could even claim the number one spot.

According to FiveThirtyEight, “the biggest snowstorm to ever hit New York dropped 26.9 inches of snow on Feb. 12 and 13, 2006, according to data going back to 1869.” Currently, New York City is on watch for 20 to 30 inches, so it’s going to be close.

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Snowfall totals of 24 to 36 inches now expected in #NYC through Tuesday night. Image credit: NOAA / NWS

They also list out New York’s top 10 snowstorms of all time:

  1. Feb. 11-12, 2006 — 26.9 inches
  2. Dec. 26-27, 1947 — 26.4 inches
  3. March 12-14, 1888 — 21.0 inches
  4. Feb. 25-26, 2010 — 20.9 inches
  5. Jan. 7-8, 1996 — 20.2 inches
  6. Dec. 26-27, 2010 — 20.0 inches
  7. Feb. 16-17, 2003 — 19.8 inches
  8. Jan. 26-27, 2011 — 19.0 inches
  9. March 7-8, 1941 — 18.1 inches
  10. 10Dec. 26, 1872 — 18.0 inches

If the National Weather Service predictions are accurate, this storm could easily slide right in there at number six—or higher!

On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged citizens to stay indoors to avoid powerful winds, low visibility and “treacherous” road conditions. “My message to New Yorkers is to prepare for something worse than we have seen before,” he said. “Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather.”

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DSNY truck plows snow in Park Slope. Photo credit: Axel Taferner/Creative Commons.

How will the City prepare for this storm? The New York Times reported:

“[T]he Sanitation Department has scheduled 12-hour shifts, with 2,400 employees on each shift, working from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Nearly 500 salt spreaders will go out before the snow. After two inches of snow have fallen, the city will deploy plows to clear about 6,000 miles of road. The sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, said that 2,000 plows from her agency would be available, along with 242 from other agencies.”

If you haven’t already, stock up on snacks and warm socks, and follow the progress of the storm from the safety of your apartment. If you have to go out, please stay safe. And if you are one of the thousands of New Yorkers who keep our city and state infrastructure running—THANK YOU.

Here are a few Twitter accounts that will keep you up-to-date on all things weather. If you’ve got more, let us know!

Eric Holthaus: weather reporter for Slate and Vice.

Andrew Freedman: science/weather reporter for Mashable.

NWS NYS: National Weather Service for New York.

NYC Sanitation: NYC Department of Sanitation

NYC OEM: New York City Office of Emergency Management

Governor Cuomo

Mayor De Blasio

Photo credit: Ben Britten  via Creative Commons