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February: Notorious Month For Major Winter Storms

UPDATED January 31, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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After a busy January, many people throughout the eastern 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.

Here is a list of the storms the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has classified as the biggest ones since 1888:

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.

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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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