Unless you were hibernating the past few days — which would’ve been a good plan! — you had to deal with the blizzard the roared through the Northeast and buried a good deal of Connecticut under a windblown blanket of snow.
In terms of unusual snowfall, this wasn’t a particularly memorable storm as only about a 1 to 1.5 feet of snow fell on most of the state. No, what made this storm so exceptional was the strong winds — measured at around 50 miles per hour with gusts reaching almost 70 miles per hour in some spots! The wind created some monstrous drifts, caused white-out conditions and disrupted power in various spots.
From the “I didn’t know the difference between winter storms and blizzards until now” file: According to weather.com, “Blizzards are characterized by low temperatures (usually below 20 F) and accompanied by winds that are at least 35 mph or greater, there must also be sufficient falling and/or blowing snow in the air that will frequently reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less for a duration of at least 3 hours.”
Check, check and check this week!
In terms of major blizzards that were severe enough to be labeled natural disasters, according to the Connecticut State Library, there has only been three:
- Feb. 6-7, 1978 – This dumped two feet of the snow on the state and shut down the state for 3 days. I remember not having school that week — it was awesome! I also remember almost drowning in a drift in my friend’s driveway, which was not awesome and actually, a bit scary.
- March 11, 1888 – According to some reports, this monster storm was marked by almost 50 inches of snow in some places! That’s over 4 feet, if you’re counting. The good news was that there were no cars yet, so there were no driveways to shovel.
- Nov. 17-21, 1798 – Known as “The Long Storm,” this November blizzard buried almost all of the East Coast under 2 to 3 feet of snow. It was part of what was called “The Long Winter,” one of the coldest ever recorded in the region and that resulted in some of the rivers around Manhattan actually freezing, ice on the streets of New Hampshire through April and snow lingering in some shady areas of Vermont until June!
Funny, but on Sunday night while snuggled in my warm, cozy bed, and listening to the wind howling outside, I was very happy for modern building techniques, heating equipment and electricity! Can you imagine dealing with that storm for FOUR days in 1798 before the advent off all those conveniences? A rather chilling thought, so to speak.
Of course, as much as we worry about the extreme weather here, we should be thankful we’re not on Saturn! Recently, astronomers captured pictures of a giant storm that raged across its surface over the Christmas holiday — it’s the squiggly thing in the picture at right.
According to Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy (highly recommended), the main section of the storm is about 3,600 miles across, or about half the size of Earth! The whole storm is about 10 times longer than that.
Yeah, a storm that’s five times bigger than the Earth itself would put a damper on the holiday, no doubt. And put what we just experience to shame!