East coast pounded by 'rare' four snow storms in four weeks

A pedestrian made his way across Congress St. in downtown Boston during a powerful snow storm. Lloyd Young/Getty Images

Northeastern U.S. had an interesting start to spring, welcoming its fourth nor’easter storm in four weeks.

Thousands of flights have been canceled and various school districts have stopped classes as the storm intensifies across Virginia and up to Maine.

“Parts of West Virginia, Maryland and southern Pennsylvania, are going to end up with probably…30 to 45 cm of snow out of the storm before it’s all said and done,” Brett Anderson, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather told Yahoo Canada News.

AccuWeather is expecting the Philadelphia and New York areas to get approximately 15 to 30 cm of snow throughout the storm. Boston should see 15 to 25 cm of snow while Washington D.C. has already had around 8 cm today, with the worst of the storm finished in that area.

“[In Boston,] the heavier snow hasn’t even gotten there yet so that’s probably going to take hold by the end of the day today and continue through tonight…and then extend up into Maine again later tonight into tomorrow,” Anderson said.

According to Dr. Doug Gillham, meteorologist with The Weather Network, one of the reasons this weather pattern is present is because of the availability of cold air.

“In order for it to snow in Virginia, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia in March, there has to be a significant amount of cold air available,” Gillham said. “That’s available right now because of a blocking pattern in the arctic that is sending air from the arctic and from northern Canada fairly far to the south.”

According to Gillham, the strength of the storms have been influenced by the warm water that was found in the western Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Impact on Canada

Aside from the U.S., this storm will also impact parts of the Canadian Maritimes as well, bringing “moderate to heavy snow” to southern New Brunswick, western Prince Edward Island and northern Nova Scotia, according to AccuWeather.

“That’s going to be starting very late tonight and mostly impacting that region during the day tomorrow,” Anderson said. “We’re expecting 15 to 30 cm of snow in St. John and in Moncton in New Brunswick, maybe 8 to 15 cm in Charlottetown.”

AccuWeather also expects Halifax to see some light snow, switching over to rain early into the storm’s path.


A man uses an umbrella to shield himself from the falling snow during a nor’easter storm in New York City. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

‘Rare’ storm frequency

According to Anderson, the amount of snow is generally odd for this time of year, but he also identifies that its the frequency of these nor’easter storm is particularly rare as well.

“Typically, the northeast cities in the U.S…have the biggest storms affect them in February,” Anderson said. “Getting this now in March is rare but seeing so many storm is quite rare I would say.”

Gillham was less surprised that the storms occurred and more surprised that the storms didn’t track further north.

“I’m not surprised by the number of storms or even the intensity, I wasn’t expecting them all to track so far to the south,” Gillham said.

Kyle Binette is surrounded by wind-driven snow while snow blowing his driveway during a nor’easter in Biddeford, ME. Gregory Rec/Getty Images.

The end of the storms

Luckily for northeastern U.S. residents, this looks like the last of the nor’easter storms for the foreseeable future, according to AccuWeather, but there is still an Alberta clipper on its way later in the week.

“That will probably bring some snow to Minnesota and then down into maybe West Virginia, but that’s going to continue moving southeast, unlikely to turn into a nor’easter at this point,” Anderson said. “It’s still going to be on the cool side across the region but I don’t see anything down the road here.”

Anderson does warn residents impacted by the nor’easter to prepare for power outages and possibly some black ice situations once the storm moves out of the region.

“Heavy wet snow combined with some wind will likely lead to probably a fair amount of power outages in the northeast, so that’s something people should be prepared for with this particular storm,” Anderson said. “[During] this time of year the snow melts during the day but then all that stuff refreezes at night so across much of the northeast, probably people are going to have to deal with black ice situations over the next several nights.”

Despite the fact that there isn’t a fifth nor’easter in sight in the near future, Gillham expects the threat for winter storms in northeast U.S. to continue beyond Easter.

“We’ll start to see that track lifting north,” Gillham said. “The focus of the snow should no longer be Virigina to New York but maybe it becomes more New York to Boston.”

According to Gillham, southern Ontario “isn’t out of the woods yet” in terms of cold weather and potential snowfall.

“We expect significant cold during early April and while it’s possible the storms continue to track to our south and miss us here…it’s going to be cold enough for it to snow significantly again,” Gillham said. “I do expect the storm track to start lifting north and I think our threat for an early April storm is higher than normal.”