Posted by: splillo | April 23, 2012

Major coastal storm

As I suggested in the last post, a drought-busting storm is in progress. There are two components that are coming together to form this monster. The first is a disturbance in the Gulf of Mexico that is pumping moisture northward. The second is a significant trough digging into the Ohio Valley. This trough is responsible for driving a cold front through the Northeast Saturday night which brought a round of showers and a few thunderstorms to the region. The southern disturbance then started to get dragged up the coast ahead of the trough. Ultimately, the two systems joined forces to produce a powerful moist southeast flow off the Atlantic Ocean.

The front that crossed us Saturday night stalled across the region as the southeast flow increased, and this provided a focus for heavy rain Sunday afternoon, overnight and into today. Widespread rainfall totals around 2-4" were reported from New Jersey and Long Island up into southern New England (see the map on the right courtesy of the Northeast River Forecast Center) . Low pressure took a generic track up the coast toward the Delmarva Peninsula, but then as the whole system got wrapped up, the low turned more northward. It currently sits over New York City, and will track inland over New York state this afternoon. To the west of the low, there is another side of this storm: SNOW! Western Pennsylvania and New York are facing a major spring snowstorm as bands rotate around the large circulation into the cold sector. Accumulations of 8 to 16" are possible through tonight.

So here's a fun thought: the two biggest snowstorms for the Northeast this season were October 29th and April 23rd! And in between, temperatures soared into the 70's and 80's on several days. So much for climatology!

Looking ahead, this storm establishes a trough over the Northeast at least through next weekend. The result is generally cloudy skies with periods of scattered showers. The weekend at least looks nicer, with clearing skies, however temperatures will continue to run below normal ... and MUCH below where we have been for the last several weeks. Highs will generally be in the 50's, with lows in the 30's.


  1. Great post Sam, you really seem to put the difficult terms of weather into us non scientist terms haha. It's really interesting to see how our biggest storms were so far from the dead of winter, and that we had such a warm winter. I like learning about all this stuff, cool topic. Keep it up!