Biggest snow totals top 30 inches after nor'easter hammers East Coast

By Kevin Byrne,
Pedestrians struggle to step through accumulated snow on 1st Avenue as a Nor'easter with blizzard-like conditions hits the east coast in New York City on Saturday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Pedestrians struggle to step through accumulated snow on 1st Avenue as a Nor'easter with blizzard-like conditions hits the east coast in New York City on Saturday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 30 (UPI) --

A ferocious nor'easter, which rapidly intensified into a bomb cyclone, slammed areas from the mid-Atlantic to Maine late Friday into Saturday with heavy snow and hurricane-force winds, resulting in a blizzard that generated whiteout conditions and dropped visibility to near zero in many areas. Officials have blamed at least one fatality on conditions brought on by the storm.


The winter storm, which AccuWeather forecasters had been warning since early in the week could unleash a huge snowfall on southern New England and other coastal areas, delivered the heaviest snowfall along the coasts, with snowfall totals topping 30 inches in eastern Massachusetts. As of early Sunday morning, the highest reported snowfall total was 30.9 inches in Stoughton, Massachusetts, about 20 miles southwest of Boston.

Boston, where a snow emergency was in effect on Saturday, was hammered by prolific snowfall with rates of 2-4 inches per hour. Roughly 20 miles southwest of the city in parts of Norfolk County, snowfall rates exceeded 4 inches per hour in the most robust bands of snow. Front-end loaders and plow trucks used by the city's public works department were out in full force to keep the roads as clear as possible.


The National Weather Service in Boston said measuring snowfall was proving to be difficult thanks to the high winds which were blowing the snow into towering drifts. Numerous locations broke daily snowfall records on Saturday as the nor'easter slammed New England, including Boston. A report of 23.6 inches tied the highest single-day snowfall total set by the historic Blizzard of 2003. Additionally, Boston obliterated its previous daily record maximum snowfall for Jan. 29 of 3.7 inches, a record that had stood since 1928.

Beantown finished with a total of 23.8 inches of snow from the storm, after 0.2 inches were measured on Friday prior to the heavy snow moving in. According to an AccuWeather analysis, the 23.8-inch accumulation total makes for the seventh-largest snowfall event in Boston history.

Elsewhere in New England, Providence, Rhode Island, shattered a daily snowfall record after reporting 18.8 inches on Saturday.

RELATED Forecasters warn of falling iguanas in Florida amid cold spell

The nor'easter also bombarded coastal areas south of New England, dumping particularly heavy snowfall on Islip, New York, with a daily snowfall total of 22.9 inches. Islip, which is east of New York City on Long Island and the location of New York City's NWS office, racked up 24.7 inches throughout the entirety of the storm. According to NOAA, 100 of New England was covered in snow in the wake of the storm.


Farther east on Long Island, in the hamlet of Cutchogue, police said a man died while shoveling snow on Saturday. According to The Suffolk Times, the man fell into a swimming pool and first responders were unable to revive him. No further details on the victim were available with police reportedly describing the man as elderly.

There was what meteorologists refer to as a very tight snowfall gradient with this particular nor'easter. Central Park, New York City's official location for weather records, picked up a total of 8.3 inches of snow from the storm -- just about 50 miles west of Islip, which topped 2 feet.

RELATED Siberian marathon might be coldest of all time at minus 63.4 degrees

In New York City, AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline spoke with a man who was out on the roads during the height of the storm due to the demands of his job. Kempthon McIntosh, a general contractor, described the scene he witnessed on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares and known to locals as "the BQE."

"Box trucks on the BQE spinning out," McIntosh said, as the wind and snow whipped into Angeline's microphone. "The BQE is loaded with snow."

That tight gradient was a theme up and down the East Coast. Philadelphia International Airport, for instance, tallied a total of 7.5 inches of snow through the storm's duration, but just about 50 miles to the east, snowfall totals were more than double that.


Blizzard conditions were confirmed in Atlantic City, which measured 16 inches of snow, and Cape May, New Jersey, as well as the Delaware beaches by the National Weather Service. Blizzard criteria, defined by forecasters as a storm that brings sustained winds or wind gusts of 35 mph or greater and visibility less than one-quarter of a mile for three consecutive hours, were also met on Long Island in Suffolk County, New York, and parts of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, including Boston. In total, eight states experienced blizzard conditions.

The storm brought travel to a standstill as it caused thousands of flights to be canceled throughout the region, and many more to be delayed, according to the flight-tracking service FlightAware. Nearly 1,000 flights were canceled on Sunday across some of the Northeast's busiest airports. Amtrak canceled service on its Washington to Boston route through Sunday.

On Interstate 95, two tractor-trailers overturned in New Rochelle, just north of New York City Saturday as conditions deteriorated, NBC New York reported, causing the highway to be shut down for a time. As far south as Maryland, the storm wreaked havoc on the roads. Maryland State Police said officers responded to more than 150 crashes throughout the state on Saturday and more than 120 disabled or unattended vehicles. Numerous locations reached double-digit snow accumulations in Maryland, including as much as 14 inches in Ocean Pines, just to the northwest of Ocean City.


Power outages weren't widespread in the Northeast, but the number of outages topped out at more than 120,000 in Massachusetts at one point Saturday evening, according to PowerOutage.US. By Sunday morning, power was being restored for many households, with outages across Massachusetts at more than 3,400 by Sunday night.

The storm became a bomb cyclone when it rapidly strengthened, or underwent bombogenesis, over the course of 24 hours from 1 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday as it tracked up the Eastern Seaboard.

Ahead of the blockbuster storm, governors in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and several other states issued state-of-emergency declarations. Officials urged residents to avoid unnecessary travel and several states implemented commercial vehicle restrictions.

The nor'easter packed its most significant punch for southeastern New England, where winds greater than hurricane force (74 mph or higher) were recorded on several coastal observations. Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was in the heart of the storm on Saturday in Truro on Cape Cod, where a wind gust of 99 mph, or the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane, was confirmed. There, Timmer captured a wild scene of ferocious winds hurling sand and snow and also said the storm was causing significant coastal erosion, threatening some properties in the process.


As the sun rose Sunday morning, jaw-dropping images captured by Timmer showed the extent to which the nor'easter's wrath caused coastal erosion along the beaches of Cape Cod. Timmer was positioned near the northernmost point of the cape.

The skies were clearing there early Sunday, but at least one Ballston beachfront home was left standing precariously after heavy surf washed away large sections of the beach. Snowfall can be seen accumulated on the parts of the beach that weren't ripped into the ocean by the powerful waves. Timmer reported that many cottages in the area had been damaged or destroyed.

The home seen in Timmer's video footage had been at the center of a zoning dispute in recent days. According to the local news outlet Cape and Islands, the owners have been seeking permission to move the home away from the water's edge. Recent photos showed the structure was already at risk from beach erosion prior to this storm and a plan to move the home had already been approved. But, the plan was delayed this week when the Truro Zoning Board ruled that the homeowners would need to seek additional permission before moving the structure.


Elsewhere in coastal Massachusetts, the storm had left its mark in different ways. Drone footage from Brant Rock, a coastal town about 30 miles southeast of Boston, showed seaside homes completely encased in ice after the nor'easter blew through the area a day earlier.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said at a Wednesday evening news conference that Sunday would be a long day for cleanup efforts, and the snow removal would "probably" continue into Monday.

Punishing winds and high surf also contributed to severe flooding around the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Photos from the Nantucket Police Department showed streets inundated with icy water.

Coastal flooding along the Massachusetts Cape resulted in numerous reports of impassable roadways near Plymouth, Norfolk, Nantucket, and Yarmouth. In addition to the snowfall, cleanup crews had to deal with downed wires and trees caused by the storm. Near Sandwich, Massachusetts, there were reports of coastal flooding damage along Route 6A when a portion of the road broke away.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont had referred to the storm as "wicked" in classic New England parlance, on Saturday, according to the Westport-News. As conditions improved on Saturday, Lamont said a tractor-trailer ban would be lifted at 11:59 p.m., Saturday.


In terms of records, several other notable pages in the record book were rewritten along the East Coast.

The blizzard conditions helped Atlantic City set a new snowfall record for the month of January. As of Sunday, the coastal city has picked up 33.2 inches of snow for the month, easily toppling the previous snowiest January on record of 20.3 inches from 1987. A total of 16 inches was reported at the city's airport Saturday alone. Earlier this month, a winter storm dropped 13 inches at Atlantic City International Airport.

To the north of Atlantic City, Philadelphia International Airport reported 5.8 inches of snow, topping the old daily record amount of 5 inches from 1904.

New York City's Central Park set a daily snowfall record of 7.3 inches, breaking the old record of 4.7 set more than 100 years ago in 1904. At LaGuardia Airport, located in the city's borough of Queens, a record snowfall of 9.4 inches was measured, breaking the old daily record of 0.9 of an inch set in 1966. The Big Apple's Mayor, Eric Adams, spent some time Saturday shoveling the front of his property, and urging New Yorkers to stay home if they didn't have to go out.


For a time on Saturday, the hashtag #blizzard2022 was the top trend on Twitter as the storm brought snow to multiple states all at once, capturing the attention of people on the Eastern Seaboard as well as around the country. But #blizzard2022 was knocked from the top of the trends when another major news story with New England connections erupted. Conflicting reports concerning the future of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady's career sent social media, and the media world at large, into a tizzy, briefly overshadowing the nor'easter.

In the wake of the nor'easter, conditions will become more tranquil in the Northeast, but AccuWeather meteorologists said there would still be lingering effects to deal with from the storm such as icy winds and dangerously low temperatures.

Additional reporting by Jillian Angeline, Bill Wadell and Reed Timmer. For the latest weather news check back on Watch the AccuWeather Network on DIRECTV, Frontier, Spectrum, fuboTV, Philo, and Verizon Fios. AccuWeather Now is now available on your preferred streaming platform.

Latest Headlines


Follow Us