Major cities, suburbs, and rural communities up and down the East Coast of the United States are digging out Sunday morning after a "monstrous" blizzard dumped multiple feet of snow across a region where tens of millions of people live.
At least 19 people, mostly in traffic- and shoveling-related accidents, were reportedly killed across numerous states during the storm, officially named Winter Storm Jonas. As is always the case, the poor and homeless were hit especially hard as the massive weather system swept through areas not accustomed to such large storms. Several deaths related to hypothermia were reported.
Paul Kocin, an expert on winter storms who co-wrote a two-volume textbook on blizzards, told the Associated Press, "This is kind of a Top 10 snowstorm."
States of emergency had been declared in multiple states as airline flights were cancelled en mass. State governments issued travel bans on major highways and public transit closures were imposed from North Caroline to Massachusetts.
Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City, and Washington, DC all saw huge snowfall totals. As AP reports:
The massive snowstorm brought both the nation's capital and its largest city to a stop, dumping as much as 3 feet of snow and stranding tens of thousands of travelers. At least 18 deaths were blamed on the weather, resulting from car crashes, shoveling snow and hypothermia.
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The snow dropped 26.8 inches in Central Park, the second-most recorded since 1869. The snowfall narrowly missed tying the previous record of 26.9 inches set in February 2006. The snow finally stopped falling in New York City around 10 p.m. Saturday night, though authorities insisted people stay indoors and off the streets as crews plowed deserted roads and police set up checkpoints to catch violators.
The storm dropped snow from the Gulf Coast to New England, with areas of Washington surpassing 30 inches. The heaviest unofficial report was in a rural area of West Virginia, not far from Harpers Ferry, with 40 inches.
Scenes from New York City:
According to Weather Underground, "Winter Storm Jonas produced prolific amounts of snow in parts of the East, rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past. Snowfall totals from the storm topped out near 42 inches in West Virginia and at least 14 states in total received more than a foot of snow from the storm." The weather news site cataloged various records broken (or nearly broken) by the storm, including a list of six specific locations which received their highest snowfall ever recorded. They were:
- Allentown, Pennsylvania: 31.9 inches Jan. 22-23, 2016 crushed the Jan. 7-9, 1996 blizzard total of 25.9 inches.
- Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Maryland (BWI): 29.2 inches Jan 22-23, 2016 beat the President's Day II storm of Feb. 16-18, 2003. Records date back to 1892.
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 30.2 inches Jan. 22-23, 2016 tops 25 inches Feb. 11-12, 1983. Records date back to 1888.
- New York - LaGuardia Airport: 27.9 inches Jan. 23, 2016 beats the previous record snowstorm of 25.4 inches Feb. 11-12, 2006. Records date back to 1945.
- New York - JFK Airport: 30.5 inches Jan. 23, 2016 beats the previous record snowstorm of 26 inches in the President's Day II storm of Feb. 16-18, 2003.
- Newark, New Jersey: 27.9 inches Jan. 22-23, 2016 surpassed the Jan. 7-8, 1996 blizzard total of 27.8 inches. Records date back to 1893.
Though many were using the hashtags #Snowzilla and #Snowzilla2016 in place of the more complacent #JonasBlizzard on social media, the trending #DavidSnowie tag also offered a great way to track the storm and its aftermath for those still celebrating the life and music of the recently-deceased iconoclast: