Storm Event: April 21-24, 2012

Late-season Nor'easter winding down
The powerful late-season Nor'easter that brought snow, high winds, and heavy rains to the Northeast yesterday is winding down as it moves northwestwards into Canada. The storm brought an unusual amount of snow for so late in the season to western Pennsylvania, western New York, and the higher elevations in West Virginia. An earlier report posted by the NWS of 23.7” at Laurel Summit, Pennsylvania (elevation 2,770’) has now been scaled back to just 13.7”, according to the latest NWS Storm Summary. Many other higher-elevation locations saw snowfall amounts in the 6 - 12 inch range. Snow amounts were considerably lower in the major cities of the region; Buffalo, New York got 0.9", Rochester, New York, 2.8", and Erie, Pennsylvania, 0.5". The wet, heavy snow fell on regions where trees had already come into leaf, thanks to the surprise "Summer in March" heat wave that brought 80° temperatures to the Northeast over a month ago. High winds that accompanied the heavy snow caused extensive tree damage and power outages to at least 75,000 people in the region. However, the storm may have done more good than harm—widespread rainfall amounts of 2 - 4 inches occurred across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Southeast New York, which is under moderate to severe drought. Rainfall deficits in the region were generally 5 - 10 inches, so the Nor'easter's rains will make a significant dent in the drought. Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has updated his post on Record Late Season Snowfalls with information from this storm.

Jeff Masters

April 23 local amounts
Storm totals

"A Nor’easter storm is bringing heavy rains and snow to many parts of the Northeast U.S. The system developed as a large front moved across the U.S. on Friday, combining with a smaller convective system off the coast of Florida. As this system moved north, it intensified and drew in cold air from the Great Lakes region. Lake–effect snows of up to 12-18 inches have fallen in the higher elevations of West Virginia through New York. Winter storm warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service for these areas. This time-lapse animation uses infrared imagery from the NOAA GOES-13 satellite to track the storms’ movement from April 20-23, 2012. Nor’easters are most commonly associated with winter storms, but can occur at any time of the year."

"As a Nor'easter blew across the U.S., a rare late spring snow was brought to the Northeast. Up to one foot of snow fell in parts of Pennsylvania and New York, with lesser amounts in West Virginia and Maryland. Shown here is NOAA's snow depth analysis for April 24, 2012, using data from ground sensors and gauges, satellite, and aircraft reconnaissance (where available). " —snow fell april 22-23 and had already experienced melting.

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