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Winter storm updates: How bad was it?

Snowfall accumulation hit the 29.2-inch mark at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport at 7. p.m. Saturday, making this storm the biggest to ever hit Baltimore.

Here is the latest on what we've gotten and what's still coming.

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How much snow has fallen?

Here are some early morning reports, made to the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington forecast office:

  • 35 inches in New Market, in Frederick County
  • 31.8 inches near Westminster
  • 29.2 inches at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
  • 29 inches in the McDonogh area of western Baltimore County
  • 28.5 inches near Bel Air
  • 27.7 inches near Columbia
  • 24.8 inches near the Clyburn Arboretum, according to the National Weather Service.

Several reports of thundersnow, when a snowstorm produces thunder and lightning, were made around Baltimore early Saturday morning, indicating intensifying precipitation.

Is it safe to go out?

Travel conditions continue to be treacherous, with high winds persisting into Sunday.

A statewide snow emergency plan is in effect, restricting travel and parking on all state roads designated as snow emergency routes. The state closed most of Interstate 70 and all of I-270 overnight Saturday. A state of emergency declared by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is also in effect.

Baltimore banned all traffic from city roadways except for emergency vehicles and snow plows between 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday.

Why was this storm so intense?

The storm is considered a classic "nor'easter," the name for the large coastal storms responsible for the East Coast's biggest snowfalls. Nor'easters thrive on a clash between cold air to their north and west and relatively warmer, moister air over the Atlantic. They also typically carry heavy amounts of tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Strong winds from the northeast give these storms the nor'easter name.

This storm is already intense as it moves across the Gulf Coast states Thursday, prompting tornado watches in Texas and Louisiana and causing a flurry of lightning strikes. It is forecast to move toward Alabama and Tennessee before transferring its energy to a low-pressure system expected to form over the Carolinas on Friday. It will then sweep up the coast, intensifying thanks to the aforementioned clash of air masses.

What is a blizzard?

A blizzard is not just a name for a big snowstorm -- for a storm to qualify as a blizzard, it must bring winds of 35 mph or greater and considerable falling or blowing snow that reduces visibility to less than a quarter of a mile for a period of at least three hours.

It was not clear as of Saturday afternoon if the storm will meet that technical definition, said Andy Woodcock, a weather service meteorologist. The strongest gusts at BWI were all between 30 and 33 mph from 10 a.m. through 3 p.m., except for the noon hour which reached 36 mph.

Visibility at BWI meanwhile was limited to a quarter of a mile from 6 a.m. through 10 a.m. and fluctuated in the afternoon between as a little as 1/8 of a mile and as much as 1 1/4 miles.

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How does this forecast compare to past storms?

With snowfall of 29.2 inches at BWI Airport as of 7 p.m., this is Baltimore's biggest snowfall on record, surpassing the previous record snow of 26.9 inches in a February 2003 storm. You can go through the old list here.

When a blizzard watch was issued across the region Wednesday, it was for the first time in this region since 1993 (it has since been upgraded to a blizzard warning). There have been a handful of blizzard warnings since then when such conditions have developed, but the bottom line is that blizzard conditions are rare, and having any foresight of them is rarer still.

Why are people calling this storm "Jonas"?

The Weather Channel launched an effort in 2012 to name winter storms in the same way we name hurricanes, to simplify messaging about storms and to communicate their severity. They have announced a new set of names each year, this winter already going through names like Bella, Echo and Goliath. Jonas is the tenth name on the list.

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