March 20–22, 2018 nor'easter

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March 20–22, 2018 nor'easter
Category 1 "Notable" (RSI: 1.6)
March 19-21, 2018 nor'easter 2018-03-21 1445Z.png
GOES-16 satellite image of the nor'easter intensifying off the Mid-Atlantic coast on March 21
TypeExtratropical cyclone
Nor'easter
Winter storm
Ice storm
Tornado outbreak
FormedMarch 18, 2018 (2018-03-18)
DissipatedMarch 24, 2018
Lowest pressure988 mb (29.18 inHg)
Tornadoes confirmed20
Max rating1EF3 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak25 hours, 59 minutes
Highest gust79 mph (127 km/h) near Topsfield, Massachusetts
Maximum snowfall or ice accretionSnowfall – 20.1 in (51 cm) in Patchogue, New York
Ice – 0.20 in (5.1 mm) in Townsend, Delaware
Damage$900 million (2018 USD)[1]
Power outages> 100,000
Casualties3 total
Areas affectedMidwestern United States, Southeast and Northeast
1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced Fujita scale

2Time from first tornado to last tornado

Part of the 2017–18 North American winter

The March 20–22, 2018 nor'easter (dubbed the "Four'easter" in some media outlets[2]) was a significant late-season nor'easter – the fourth to affect the Northeastern United States during the month of March 2018 – that impacted the Mid-Atlantic states and New England with over 18 in (46 cm) of heavy snow and whiteout conditions. The three previous such storms had struck the general region on March 1–3, 6–8, and 12–14, respectively. It also affected areas of the Southeastern and Midwestern United States with both snowfall and severe weather. The nor'easter was also one of the heaviest spring snowstorms on record in some areas in the Mid-Atlantic, especially Philadelphia and New York City.[3] Originating from a surface low that formed over the Rocky Mountains, the system tracked across the central United States, bringing some wintry weather to surrounding areas as well as severe weather in the South. It then reached the Northeastern U.S. on March 20–21 and – while moving slowly near the shorelines of Delaware, New Jersey and Long Island – dropped heavy snowfall with rates of up to 5 inches (13 cm) an hour in some spots. The storm was given unofficial names such as Winter Storm Toby and Nor'easter 4.

The storm caused hundreds of flights to be cancelled in advance, and caused many school districts to close for the following day or two. Over 100,000 power outages were reported as a result of the nor'easter. At least 3 people have been killed in the nor'easter as of March 21. In addition, the system produced a tornado outbreak in the Southeast, spawning at least 20 tornadoes on March 19, one of which was a long-tracked EF3 that hit Jacksonville, Alabama causing considerable damage.

Meteorological history[edit]

Projected paths for the developing low off the East Coast. Issued 3 p.m. EST (20:00 UTC) on March 20.

On March 18, an area of low pressure consolidated over the Rocky Mountains, bringing moderate to heavy snow to those locations.[4] Over the next day or two, this low slowly moved eastward across the Central United States, while also interacting with a stationary front located in the Southeast. This ultimately resulted in a severe weather outbreak in the South late on March 19, producing at least nineteen confirmed tornadoes, one of which was rated an EF3. As the system moved eastwards towards the Eastern United States, it was still somewhat uncertain how much snow the storm would produce, which depended on its track and intensity; as the impending storm grew closer it became increasingly likely a major snowstorm would occur. Precipitation began to spread into the Mid-Atlantic states by early March 20.[5] This first phase of the nor'easter brought freezing rain and snow to much of the Tri-State area, before it began dissipating later that night while snow continued over the Appalachian Mountains from an associated but weakening low. At the same time, a new surface low formed off the Chesapeake Bay around 03:00 UTC on March 21, prompting the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) to begin issuing storm summaries on the developing nor'easter.[6]

After forming, the storm began intensifying as it slowly moved northward parallel to the East Coast, with a large swath of moderate to heavy snow covering the area of New Jersey and Long Island in the morning hours of March 21.[7] Contrary to the previous nor'easters, there was colder air further south then in other storms, which allowed accumulating snow to stick more quickly in areas near southern New Jersey throughout the day. Due to moving slowly near the coast, bands of heavy snowfall (with some embedded rates of up to 4 inches (10 cm) per hour) hammered the coastline as it continued to slowly move eastward.[8] By the following day, the system attained a minimum pressure of around 988 mbar (29.2 inHg). Shortly afterwards however, at 15:00 UTC, the WPC terminated storm summaries on the nor'easter as most of the snow in New England had tapered off.[9]

Preparations and impact[edit]

Satellite shot of the snow cover in the Northeast after the nor'easter subsided on March 22.

Severe weather in the South[edit]

Before impacting the Northeast, the system was also responsible for producing severe weather across the South on March 19–20, with at least twenty tornadoes being confirmed by the National Weather Service (NWS).[10] One possible tornado late on March 19 was reported as having caused "unbelievable destruction" in the town of Fulton, Alabama.[11] Another devastating tornado, the first to be rated EF3 of the year, hit Jacksonville, Alabama, which caused extensive damage to both the city and to Jacksonville State University (although many of its students were on spring break at the time).[12]

Mid-Atlantic regions[edit]

Having been affected by three previous nor'easters in the month of March, the impending storm caused intense preparation across the region. In the early morning hours of March 20, several hundred flights were either canceled or rerouted ahead of the storm.[13] More than 4,000 flights were canceled on March 21, mainly because of the nor'easter.[14] Amtrak modified or canceled service on several trains running along the Northeast Corridor on March 21 and 22 due to the nor'easter.[15] Over 100,000 people lost power from the nor'easter.[14]

In Virginia, state offices in Richmond opened two hours late on March 21. The Virginia State Police responded to more than 250 crashes on the morning of March 21.[14] Virginia Railway Express suspended service on March 21 due to the snow.[16]

Houses in southern Fairfax County late in the afternoon of March 21.

All federal offices in Washington, D.C. were closed on March 21 due to the nor'easter.[14] Schools across the Washington, D.C. area were closed. The Washington Metro saw lower ridership while bus service on Metrobus and suburban bus systems was reduced due to the nor'easter.[16]

In Maryland, the nor'easter brought heavy snow to areas that very rarely receive heavy snowfall so late in the month. Schools in Baltimore were closed on March 21 due to the nor'easter.[14] MARC Train and MTA commuter bus service were both suspended on March 21. Several accidents were reported across the state due to the snow.[16] A school bus driver in Frederick County had to be removed after the bus slid off a roadway due to wintry conditions. No one was injured in the incident.[14][17]

In Delaware, Governor John Carney declared a state of emergency starting at midnight on March 21. State offices in New Castle County were closed on March 21.[18] Governor Carney issued a Level 1 driving warning in New Castle and Kent counties effective at 2:45 p.m. on March 21, encouraging motorists not to be out on the roads.[19] DART First State suspended bus service in New Castle and Kent counties at 6 p.m. on March 21.[20] The nor'easter caused flooding along River Road in Oak Orchard.[19] Coastal flooding brought waves to the dunes in Rehoboth Beach and onshore at the Indian River Inlet Bridge, causing moderate beach erosion.[21] A walkway leading to the beach in Bethany Beach was washed away by high tide.[22]

Snow from the nor'easter in Hatboro, Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf put over 450 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers on standby.[14] In Philadelphia, a snow emergency was declared for March 21, with schools and government offices shut down.[23] SEPTA modified their service plan for March 21 due to the snow, with Regional Rail trains running on a modified Saturday schedule and Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line trains running during the overnight hours. In addition, several SEPTA bus routes were placed on detours in advance of the storm.[24] PennDOT reported that it had around 400 snow trucks and over 70,000 pounds of salt ready to clear roadways during the storm.[25] Authorities from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission announced that the speed limit would be reduced to 45 mph (72 km/h) on the entire length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Northeast Extension, with a truck and trailer ban enacted for the entire turnpike starting at 8 p.m on March 20. PennDOT also lowered the speed limit to 45 mph (72 km/h) on several freeways in the southeastern part of the state and implemented truck and trailer bans on select freeways in the eastern part of the state. A crash involving two tractor-trailers shut down the westbound Pennsylvania Turnpike west of Reading.[26] Two police officers were taken to the hospital following a crash on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia during the storm.[27] Two people were killed in a crash in Horsham on March 20 when their car slid on ice and hit another car head on.[28] The bus carrying the Villanova Wildcats men's basketball team to the airport for a charter flight to Boston for their NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game got stuck in the snow trying to leave the campus and took ten attempts to get freed.[29]

In the Lehigh Valley, LANTA buses operated on snow emergency detours, with service suspended at 4 p.m. on March 21.[30][31] In Berks County, BARTA suspended bus service starting at 5 p.m. on March 21. Bieber Tourways canceled most of its buses between the Reading and Lehigh Valley areas and Philadelphia and New York City on March 21.[32] The cities of Allentown and Reading opened downtown parking garages to residents to park for free.[33][34]

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency beginning at 7 p.m. on March 20. All state offices in New Jersey were closed on March 21.[35] On March 20, the Wave Parking Garage in Atlantic City offered to allow residents to park for free during the nor'easter.[36] Rutgers University announced that all classes would be cancelled on March 21, due to the nor'easter.[14][37] New Jersey Transit suspended bus service starting at 3 p.m. on March 21 due to the storm, while train service ran on a limited weekday schedule.[15] The New Jersey State Police banned commercial vehicles along Interstate 78, Interstate 80, Interstate 280, and Interstate 287. One person was in intensive care following an accident along Interstate 78 in Hunterdon County.[38] An 87-year-old woman with dementia and Alzheimer's was found dead in the snow in Toms River.[14] Demi Lovato was forced to reschedule a concert in Newark due to the snowstorm, the new date of Lovato's concert will be April 2.[39] The nor'easter caused beach erosion at the Jersey Shore, including Brigantine and Ocean City, which had just seen beach replenishment. Street flooding occurred in Ocean City from the nor'easter.[40]

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties. Schools in New York City were closed on March 21 due to the nor'easter and the city issued a Snow Alert.[38] 12-18 inches of snow fell across the region. Governor Cuomo issued a travel ban for tractor-trailers along several Interstate highways in the New York City area. The nor'easter forced the modification of service along the New York City Subway. The Metro-North Railroad operated on a reduced weekday schedule.[15] Justin Timberlake was forced to cancel a concert at Madison Square Garden on March 21, to be rescheduled on a later date. A van flipped over on the Wantagh State Parkway in Nassau County from the snow, killing one person and injuring five other people. A 62-year-old woman in Bellmore died of a heart attack while shoveling snow.[14] The nor'easter caused several accidents on Long Island, including an accident between two tractor-trailers on the Long Island Expressway in North Hills.[38]

Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island announced that all state services would be closed on March 21 due to the storm. Schools in Providence were closed on March 21.[14]

Other regions[edit]

Winter weather advisories and winter storm watches and warnings were issued in parts of the Tennessee and Ohio valleys, as snow was expected to accumulate and blanket parts of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky - and as far south as the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina and into central Appalachia.[41][3]

Naming[edit]

The storm has received several different unofficial names from different media outlets. The Weather Channel, which names significant winter storms that have disruptive impacts on major cities, assigned the name Toby to the winter storm.[14] On social media, Reuters and several other news outlets referred to the storm as the "Four'easter" or "Nor'easter 4" (signifying it was the fourth such storm to impact the Northeastern U.S in the month of March).[2] The National Weather Service has stated though that, unlike hurricanes, it does not name winter storms. The practice of winter storm naming remains controversial in the United States.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Benfield, Aon (April 2018). "Global Catastrophe Recap" (PDF). Aon Benfield. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Trotta, Daniel (March 21, 2018). "'Four'easter' pounds U.S. East as Californians wary of mudslides". Reuters. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Winter Storm Toby Could be One of Heaviest, Latest March Snowstorms on Record in Parts of Interstate 95 Corridor, Including New York, Philadelphia". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  4. ^ "WPC Surface Analysis for 18:00 UTC on 3/18/2018". Weather Prediction Center. March 18, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  5. ^ "WPC Surface Analysis for 06:00 UTC on 3/18/2018". Weather Prediction Center. March 18, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  6. ^ "Storm Summary Number 1 for Ohio Valley to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Winter Storm". Storm Summary Message. College Park, Maryland: National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  7. ^ "Storm Summary Number 3 for Ohio Valley to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Winter Storm". Storm Summary Message. College Park, Maryland: National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  8. ^ "Storm Summary Number 5 for Ohio Valley to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Winter Storm". Storm Summary Message. College Park, Maryland: National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center. March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  9. ^ "Storm Summary Number 7 for Ohio Valley to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast Winter Storm". Storm Summary Message. College Park, Maryland: National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center. March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  10. ^ "Tornados Damage Homes in Alabama". Time. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Possible tornado leaves path of 'unbelievable' destruction in south Fulton". AJC. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  12. ^ ""We didn't know when it was going to be over": Alabama hit with devastating tornadoes". CBS Evening News. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Yes, another nor'easter; 1,200+ cancellations (and counting)". USA Today. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Winter Storm Toby Shuts Down Schools, Causes Travel Headaches in Northeast". The Weather Channel. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Here's what you need to know about mass transit, travel during the nor'easter". New York, NY: WABC-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c Halsey III, Ashley; Hedgpeth, Dana; Zauzmer, Julie (March 21, 2018). "The calendar says it's spring but wintry weather says otherwise". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  17. ^ Melser, Lowell [@MelserWBAL] (March 20, 2018). "School Bus crashes off of rural road in Thurmont in Frederick County. Drive was only one on bus and had to be removed through the front window. No kids on bus. Courtesy Joel Jordan. #wbal @spann pic.twitter.com/Zuhrs3zxXw" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "Delaware Gov. Carney Issues State of Emergency for Winter Storm". Salisbury, MD: WBOC-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  19. ^ a b "Winter Storm Update #3" (Press release). Delaware Department of Transportation. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  20. ^ "DART to suspend bus service at 6 p.m. in New Castle and Kent Counties". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  21. ^ Overturf, Madeline (March 21, 2018). "Nor'easter Causes Flooding Concerns in Eastern Sussex County". Salisbury, MD: WBOC-TV. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  22. ^ Overturf, Madeline (March 22, 2018). "Storm Causes Beach Erosion in Sussex County". Salisbury, MD: WBOC-TV. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  23. ^ "City of Philadelphia declares snow emergency for Wednesday". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  24. ^ "SEPTA announces snow plan ahead of Wednesday's storm". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  25. ^ "Snow Preparations Underway As Region Gets Ready For Nor'Easter #4". CBS Local (Philadelphia). 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Speed limits reduced on major roadways, PA Turnpike". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  27. ^ "2 police officers taken to hospital after crash on I-95". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  28. ^ "2 killed in Horsham weather-related crash". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  29. ^ "VIDEO: Villanova Basketball team's bus gets stuck in snow on way to Sweet 16". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  30. ^ "LANTA to run on modified schedule Wednesday". Allentown, PA: WFMZ-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  31. ^ "LANTa shuts down routes Wednesday afternoon". Allentown, PA: WFMZ-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  32. ^ "BARTA suspends evening bus service; Bieber buses also idled". Allentown, PA: WFMZ-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  33. ^ "Allentown opens parking decks to residents". Allentown, PA: WFMZ-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  34. ^ "Some Reading garages opened for free parking during storm". Allentown, PA: WFMZ-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  35. ^ "Gov. Murphy declares State of Emergency for New Jersey ahead of storm". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 20, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  36. ^ Writer, MAXWELL REIL Staff. "Wave Parking Garage offering free parking during nor'easter". Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  37. ^ Rutgers University [@RutgersU] (March 20, 2018). "Due to Wednesday's impending storm, Rutgers University will close all offices and cancel all classes as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 21, 2018, and reopen at 5 a.m. Thursday, March 22, 2018. Classes will resume first period at each campus: www.rutgers.edu" (Tweet). Retrieved March 21, 2018 – via Twitter.
  38. ^ a b c "NYC snow: 4th nor'easter in 3 weeks wallops New York area". New York, NY: WABC-TV. March 21, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  39. ^ "Demi Lovato and Justin Timberlake Cancel Tour Dates Due to Bad Weather". E! News. March 21, 2018.
  40. ^ "Shore cleanup in Brigantine after the big nor'easter". Philadelphia, PA: WPVI-TV. March 22, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  41. ^ "Fourth nor'easter of the month could bring 12 inches of snow". NBC News. Retrieved March 21, 2018.

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