Natural Hazards

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 101–113

Characteristics of the top ten snowstorms at First-Order Stations in the U.S.

Original Paper
  • 131 Downloads

Abstract

Snowstorms can produce varying degrees of damage depending on the amount and intensity of the snowfall over a given amount of time. Concurrent weather conditions such as freezing rain and high winds often exacerbate the amount of damage received. In order to assess the frequency of potentially damaging conditions during climatologically significant snowstorms, the top ten snowstorms (TTS) at individual First-Order Stations in the eastern two-thirds of the conterminous U.S. were determined, and the hourly weather conditions during each event were analyzed. The results show that TTS have occurred as early as September and as late as June, with January being the peak month of occurrence. Hourly precipitation totals during TTS were 2.3 mm or less 88% of the time. Seven percent of TTS were classified as a blizzard with over half of the blizzards occurring in the West North Central region. The most common concurrent weather condition during a TTS was fog followed by blowing snow. Regionally, heavy snow events in the Northeast had relatively higher precipitation amounts, colder temperatures, higher winds, and more fog and blowing snow than any other region.

Keywords

Snow Snowstorms Snowfall Concurrent weather conditions 

Abbreviations

FOS

First-Order Stations

NOAA

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NCDC

National Climatic Data Center

NWS

National Weather Service

NESIS

Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale

TTS

Top ten snowstorms

U.S.

United States

USD

United States dollars

References

  1. Adams R, Houston L, Weiher R (2004) The value of snow and snow information services. Report prepared for NOAA’s National Operational Hydrological Remote Sensing Center. http://www.economics.noaa.gov/library/documents/benefits_of_weather_and_climate_forecasts/econ_value-snow-final_report.doc
  2. Branick ML (1997) A climatology of significant winter-type weather events in the contiguous United States, 1982–94. Weather Forecast 12:193–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Call DA (2005) Rethinking snowstorms as snow events: a regional case study from Upstate New York. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 86:1783–1793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Changnon SA (1969) Climatology of severe winter storms in Illinois. Illinois State Water Survey, Bulletin 53, 45 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Changnon SA (2005) Developing data sets for assessing long-term fluctuation in snowstorms in the U.S. Changnon Climatologist, 21 ppGoogle Scholar
  6. Changnon SA (2006) Problems with heavy snow data at first-order stations in the United States. J Atmos Ocean Technol 23:1621–1624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Changnon SA, Changnon D (2006) A spatial and temporal analysis of damaging snowstorms in the United States. Nat Hazards 37:373–389CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Changnon SA, Hewings G (2001) Losses from weather extremes in the U.S. Nat Hazards Rev 2:113–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Changnon SA, Kunkel KE (2006) Severe storms in the Midwest. Illinois State Water Survey, Informational/Educational Material 2006-06, 74 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. Changnon SA, Changnon D, Karl TR (2006) Temporal and spatial characteristics of snowstorms in the contiguous United States. J Appl Meteorol Climatol 45:1141–1155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CNN (2007) Nonstop snow buries Buffalo, New York. http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WEATHER/12/28/buffalo.snow/. Cited 09 August 2007
  12. Doesken NJ, Judson A (1997) The snow booklet: a guide to the science, climatology, and measurement of snow in the United States. Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, 876 ppGoogle Scholar
  13. Hirsch ME, DeGaetano AT, Colucci SJ (2001) An East Coast winter storm climatology. J Clim 14:882–899CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kocin PJ, Uccellini LW (2004) A snowfall impact scale derived from Northeast storm snowfall distributions. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 85:177–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kocin PJ, Schumacher PN, Morales RF Jr, Uccellini LW (1995) Overview of the 12–14 March 1993 superstorm. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 76:165–182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kunkel KE, Palecki MA, Hubbard KG, Robinson DA, Redmond KT, Easterling DR (2007) Trend identification in twentieth-century U.S. snowfall: the challenges. J Atmos Ocean Technol 24:64–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lott N (1993) The big one! A review of the March 12–14, 1993 “storm of the century”. National Climatic Data Center, Technical Report 93-01, 24 ppGoogle Scholar
  18. NOAA (2004a) Cooperative summary of the day, DSI 3200—1948–2001. National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NCGoogle Scholar
  19. NOAA (2004b) Surface airways hourly and airways solar radiation, DSI 3280—1948–2001. National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NCGoogle Scholar
  20. NOAA (2004c) Hourly precipitation data, DSI 3240—1948–2001, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NCGoogle Scholar
  21. NOAA (2007) National Weather Service directives system: 10-513 WFO winter weather products specification. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/sym/pd01005013curr.pdf. Cited 16 August 2007
  22. Robinson DA (1989) Evaluation of collection, archiving, and publication of daily snow data in the United States. Phys Geogr 10:120–130Google Scholar
  23. Schwartz RM, Schmidlin TW (2002) Climatology of blizzards in the conterminous United States, 1959–2000. J Clim 15:1765–1772CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.NOAA’s National Climatic Data CenterAshevilleUSA
  2. 2.MahometUSA

Personalised recommendations