Historic and Deadly Winter Storm Jonas Was the Fourth Largest Blizzard to Hit the Northeast U.S.

Last weekend, millions of people across the U.S. East Coast were held in the grip of the first major snowstorm of 2016. Dubbed "Jonas," the storm clobbered the region, ushering in severe weather conditions for more than 85 million people in more than 20 states. It was the fourth-largest blizzard to hit the northeast U.S.


Jonas had claimed the lives of at least 48 people. About 500 vehicles were stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for many hours. It was one of New York's third-biggest blizzards, with snow accumulations in Central Park measured at 25.1 inches.

Here are the top snow and ice totals by state according to Weather.com, with the highest snow totals listed first:
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast (Friday-Saturday)
  • West Virginia: 40 inches of snow in Glengary, in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.
  • Virginia: 39 inches in Philomont, about 25 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.
  • Maryland: 38 inches in Redhouse, in western Maryland. Redhouse is 150 miles west of Baltimore.
  • New York: 30.5 inches at JFK Airport in New York City.
  • Pennsylvania: 35.5 inches at Somerset, about 25 miles southwest of Altoona.
  • New Jersey: 29.6 inches at Whitehouse, in Readington Township in the northern part of the state.
  • Connecticut: 16 inches at Greenwich, near the New York border in far southwestern Connecticut.
  • Delaware: 15.5 inches at Woodside in Kent County.
  • Rhode Island: 15.5 inches at Westerly, in the southwestern corner of the state.
  • Massachusetts: 14.5 inches at West Harwich on Cape Cod.
South and Ohio Valley (Friday-Early Saturday)
  • Kentucky: 22 inches near Booneville in eastern Kentucky; 12.2 inches of snow and 0.30 inch of ice in Bowling Green; 2 inch per hour snowfall rates in Jackson with a storm total of 16.2 inches
  • North Carolina: 19 inches near Old Fort. Also 0.65 inches of ice glaze near Selma.
  • Ohio: 17 inches in Graysville, in southeast Ohio, about 80 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.
  • Tennessee: 14 inches in Jamestown. Nashville reported thundersnow during the day Friday with a storm total of 8 inches.
  • Arkansas: 8 inches near Sherwood, Cabot and Jacksonville.
  • Georgia: 7.5 inches at Dillard in Rabun County of far northeast Georgia.
  • South Carolina: 7.5 inches of snow in Inman; 1/2 inch of ice glaze in Fort Mill. Both are close to the North Carolina border.
  • Illinois: 5.5 inches at Shawneetown, in the southeastern parts of the state near the Ohio River.
  • Indiana: 5 inches in Floyds Knobs, just over the Ohio River from Louisville.
  • Alabama: 3.5 inches near Harvest, just to the northwest of Huntsville.
  • Louisiana: 2.5 inches in Haynesville, near the Arkansas border.
  • Mississippi: 2 inches in Oxford and Myrtle, both in northern Mississippi.
During the early stages of Jonas' development, snow fell in the Plains states Thursday. Snowfall totals included:
  • Kansas: 10 inches in Barnes; 9.5 inches in Haddam
  • Nebraska: 9 inches in Hebron; 8 inches in Hubbell
  • Missouri: 3 inches snow in East Prairie

Here's a look at Jonas by the numbers, from CNN:

  • 40 inches of snow was recorded in Glengary, West Virginia; 39 inches fell in Philomont, Virginia; and Redhouse, Maryland, received 38 inches.
  • 25.1 inches of snow at Central Park, the third-largest snowfall on record.
  • More than 28 inches of snow at Dulles International Airport, the second-largest snowfall recorded there. Baltimore's BWI notched 29.2 inches.
  • 11 states declared states of emergency: Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. Washington, D.C., has declared a "snow emergency."
  • 8,569 flights canceled for Saturday and Sunday, according to FlightAware.com.
  • More than 74,000 people without power.

Major East coast cities, roadways and airports were immobilized on Saturday, January 23, with travel banned in New York City and Long Island until the following morning. New Jersey as New York City were cut off from each other while all transit from bridges and tunnels were shut down. People came out in droves to help, with around 2,000 volunteers shoveling snow for elderly and disabled neighbors in D.C. alone. Outreach workers worked through the weekend helping homeless people get to shelter.

The federal government closed in the nation's capital at noon on Friday, January 22, while the governors of Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia declared states of emergency, joining similar city-level announcements from Washington D.C. to New York. 

As the storm moved out Sunday, NBC News said “one in seven Americans could be under at least half a foot of snow, and Washington, D.C. could see snowdrifts more than 4 feet high.”

During a press conference from the National Weather Service's forecasting center in College Park, Maryland, NWS director Louis Uccellini said several factors united to create this historic blizzard, with extremely high winds, hazardous inland flooding and even whiteout snow, which causes severe loss of visibility, and thundersnow, which is snowfall accompanied by thunder and lightning. 

Stormwatchers on Twitter used the hashtags #snowzilla2016, #snowpocalypse, #blizzard2016 and #snowmaggedon2016.

So much for the increasingly distant memory of December being the warmest month on record.

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