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February: Notorious Month For Major Winter Storms

UPDATED February 3, 2015

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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After a busy late-January, many people throughout the northeastern U.S. hopes February is a lot quieter. However, some of the U.S. biggest winter storms, especially ones along the East Coast, have hit in the year`s second month.

Just last February, a large winter storm hit the East Coast, bringing freezing rain and ice to the Carolinas and heavy snow to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. It caused nearly a half-billion dollars in damage and was responsible for at least 22 deaths.

Here is a list of the other noteworthy February winter storms compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including the most recent storms to cause havoc in the East:

1956 Southern Plains Snowstorm: A series of disturbances brought heavy snow to the southern Plains the first week of February (1st-8th). The Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle was the bull`s eye for the heaviest accumulation. In Texas, Vega had an accumulation of 43 inches, Hereford saw 24 inches, while Amarillo got 14 inches. In spots, snow accumulated for almost 4 straight days. Travel was completely interrupted and hundreds of cattle died. Food for surviving cows had to be airlifted in since roads were closed and/or snow-covered.

Blizzard of 1978: Following on the heels of the Great Blizzard of 1978, another historic winter storm pummeled the East Coast from February 5-8. The storm intensified rapidly off the Mid-Atlantic Coast and then slowed down due to a sprawling high pressure center in eastern Canada. The end result was strong winds and heavy snow. Gusts hit 80-to-90 mph from Boston to Cape Cod, with 1-to-3 feet of snow for New England. Boston had its greatest snowstorm on record with 27.1 inches while the same can be said in Providence, R.I., where 27.6 inches accumulated.

President`s Day Blizzard of 2003: Low pressure tracked from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Carolinas bringing heavy snow along its northern and western periphery February 14-19. The Interstate-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to Boston got socked with 15-to-36 inches of snow. Baltimore saw a record 28.2 inches, making this the biggest snowstorm on record. Totals surpassed the Blizzard of 1978 in Boston with 27.5 inches. The roof of the historic B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore collapsed during the storm.

Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011: This storm tracked from Texas to the western Great Lakes February 1-2 while a strong high pressure in the Midwest transported cold air into the Mississippi Valley. Ice paralyzed southwestern Iowa before the snow arrived. One-to-2 feet of snow blanketed locations from southern Wisconsin to northern Missouri, with wind gusts of 55-to-70 mph along the western shore of Lake Michigan. Milwaukee and Chicago even reported thundersnow. Drifts reached 4-to-10 feet, shutting down part of Interstates 43 and 94.

Pre-Valentine's Day Winter Storm of 2014: Low pressure swept up the East Coast February 12-13, 2014 and produced 1 to 3 feet of snow from the Mid-Atlantic to eastern New England. Roanoke, Va., piled up 19 inches, making it the highest two-day snow total since 1912. More than one inch of ice coated northern South Carolina, with ice amounts reaching three-quarters of an inch from eastern North Carolina to central Alabama. At least 9 people died across the Atlanta area, with 70 percent of flights cancelled in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte. The storm also left more than 200,000 people without power in South Carolina where President Obama declared a disaster following the storm.

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Source: NOAA


Story Image: A blanket of heavy snow covers Silverlake, Wis., during the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011. (Jeffrey McFarlane, WeatherBug user)

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