February 13-14, 2014 Nor’easter
After a much snowier than average start to February, the biggest snowstorm of the winter occurred on the 13-14th, with an initial round of snow producing over 4 inches per hour in Long Island, followed by a dry slot with precipitation resuming in the evening as rain/sleet, accompanied by heavy thunderstorms, later changing back to snow. Snow totals ranged from 6-10 inches in eastern Long Island and SE CT to 10-18 inches across the rest of the area, with the highest totals near SE NY up to 20″.
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February 13-14, 2014 Storm Archive
The nor’easter formed as a result of the interaction of two systems, a southern stream shortwave in the southern US and a northern stream shortwave diving southeast from the northwest US into the central US, where it interacted and phased with the southern stream on Wednesday, February 12. As phasing occurred, a more organized low pressure developed south of Louisiana, with a major snow and ice storm affecting the southeast US. The trough began to become negatively tilted later in the afternoon as it began to track up the coast, with a low pressure developing east of Georgia and tracking NNE.
The nor’easter brought a significant surge of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into the region, which along with strong lifting supported a heavy snow band extending from North Carolina into the NYC area and eastern New England on the morning of Thursday, February 13, as the low reached SE Virginia with a minimum pressure near 997mb. The low continued to deepen steadily through the rest of the day, with a minimum pressure near 986mb while off the coast of New Jersey in the evening and 973mb while right along the coast of Maine on the morning of Friday, February 14. The track of the low was close enough to the coast to result in mixing with rain and sleet, along with thunderstorms associated with the upper level low from the second round of precipitation, but with an expansive dry slot keeping conditions mostly dry the majority of the time period temperatures were above freezing.
Forecasting The Storm
February 9 – Snow Today, Rain/Snow Likely Thurs
February 10 – Snow Returns On Thursday
February 11 – Heavy Snow Expected Thursday
February 12 – Heavy Snow, Wind Tomorrow
February 13-14 Storm Updates
2/6 12z ECM at hour 168, depicting a relatively weak coastal low producing moderate rain/snow across the area (image credit: PSU e-Wall).
Long Range: The model guidance performance for this storm in the medium-long range period was similar to that of other recent major storms, with the standard procedure of the CMC, ECM and GFS consistently hinting at a major storm around the day 6-8 range, followed by at least the majority of the models then backing away in the medium range before gradually returning back to a significant storm in the short range, with the ECMWF often the model to continue to depict the significant storm scenario in the medium range. As early as 2/5, at least 8 days away, the GFS and ECM depicted a major storm affecting the region with significant precipitation totals including heavy snow. By the 7-day range on 2/6, the ECM and CMC depicted heavy rain/snow affecting the region, while the GFS began its standard period of depicting a variety of solutions, ranging from precipitation remaining offshore in the 0z run to a moderate snowstorm for NYC on the 12z run. Model inconsistencies continued to increase with the 2/7 runs, with the ECM continuing to depict a significant rain/snow storm for the area while the CMC kept the storm offshore, and the GFS depicted a weak system with a lack of a cold air mass resulting in either no precipitation or light rain for the area.
Medium Range: This section will be added soon.
Short Range: This section will be added soon.
Storm Timeline in the Northeast
Regional radar image from 9:18 AM EDT 2/13 from the National Weather Service, showing heavy snow covering most of the area with snow rates over 3″ per hour affecting Long Island.
Precipitation began to enter the area around 12-2am on Thursday, February 13, slowly moving northward as light snow developed. With a surge of mid level warming supporting strong lifting, along with the aid of mid level frontogenetic forcing, a heavy snow band developed over North Carolina, reaching Washington DC-southern NJ towards 2-4am, slowly crawling NE until reaching the area between 7-9am. Heavy snow covered the area, with the heaviest snow focused under the strongest dynamics over Long Island and NYC, where snow rates of near to over 3 inches per hour were observed, peaking around 9am with the National Weather Service having noted in the morning area forecast discussion snow rates reaching 3-4 inches in only 30 minutes.
Regional radar image from 3:18 PM EDT 2/13 from the National Weather Service, showing the dry slot over the area, with the first round over eastern New England and the second round over Virginia.
The heaviest snow from the first round lifted north of the area by 11am-12pm, having produced over a foot in parts of NYC and Long Island during its relatively short duration. With warmth continuing to spread northward in the mid levels, temperatures warmed enough to support a changeover to sleet and rain, starting in coastal Long Island between 10-11am before spreading into the rest of Long Island, NYC, NE NJ and coastal CT by 12pm. Steady rain and sleet continued to fall in these locations through 2pm, continuing to fall as snow further inland, before a broad dry slot pushed into the area with subsidence behind the initial banding and a surge of drier air in the mid levels entering the system. Generally dry conditions continued through the rest of the afternoon hours as the deformation band stalled from central NY state into western Pennsylvania, while continued warm air advection led to temperatures rising into the low-mid 30s with sleet reaching the rest of the interior locations in NW NJ and SE NY.
Regional radar image from 9:18 PM EDT 2/13, from the National Weather Service, showing the second round entering the area with a line of heavy thunderstorms, falling as rain to the east and sleet to the west.
As the strong upper level low continued to track northeast towards the area, with the surface low pressure slightly slowing down near the coast of southeast New Jersey while rapidly deepening, precipitation associated with the upper level low intensified while pivoting towards more of a south-north orientation, with instability supporting the development of heavy thunderstorms from Maryland into southern NJ. This line of heavy thunderstorms continued to track north, reaching the area around 9pm, with at least over 0.25″ of precipitation falling during the 1-hour period; LaGuardia airport picked up 0.95″ of rain in one hour. Precipitation type generally fell as rain east of NYC, and sleet further west. The band of heavy precipitation then continued northeast through most of the region, changing to heavy snow with rates of 2-3 inches per hour over the Hudson Valley into Vermont.
With the mid to upper level low passing near the area, colder air aloft began to filter back into the area as winds turned to the north, leading to a changeover to sleet and then snow, falling heavy at times towards NW NJ and SE NY. Heavy snow banding over eastern Pennsylvania slowly began to pivot into the area, leading to another dry slot entering Long Island and CT between 11pm and 1am, while locations from NYC and further north/west saw a gradual changeover to moderate snow, which later spread into Long Island and CT as well with additional light to moderate snow accumulations. Precipitation generally ended between 4-6am from southwest to northeast.