This was an unwanted sight this morning along the I-81 cooridor near Harrisonburg. Numerous snow squalls made for an interesting day across the D.C. area. Starting early this morning, there have been numerous reports of snowfall, from 0.2 inches in Germantown and Damascus, to 12 inches in Pendleton County, WV.
Much of it was just nice to look at but some of it was quite a nuisance with plenty of accidents reported on I-270. Since the ground was so cold, this snow was able to stick even though the squalls only lasted about 15 minutes each.
The D.C. area and mountains to the west weren't the only areas to recieve snowfall. This was really one of the first good lake-effect snows in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as parts of Michigan where conditions were actually the worst with winds gusting to 50 m.p.h..
Along the Great Lakes, the highest snowfall total reported was 16 inches in Cattaraugus County in New York. It's always fun to watch lake-effect snows as a simple change in the wind direction can completely dictate how much snow an area receives. Sometimes if the wind changes enough so you lose that long fetch over the water it can completely turn the lake-effect snow machine off.
Anyone from Ohio? They got in on the action as well. Here are some of the snow totals in and around the greater Cleveland area.
So what caused all of this to occur? Well, here's a quick focus on when and why this happens, as it does A LOT every year. Just head to the western slopes of the mountains if you want more snow (that's a 104 inch mark in Garrett County, MD)...
- 850mb temperatures and winds around 7pm Tuesday
Here is a look at the 850mb temperatures and winds. The bright pink and purples are showing the areas of cold air around 5000 feet above the surface. This air is in the single digits at 5000 feet. Take another look at the 35 to 40 m.p.h. winds out of the northwest almost exactly perpendicular to the Allegheny Mountains. This will make for perfect upslope snowfall conditions due to orographic lift.
Just ask the ski areas how they are doing. 12 inches over the last 24 hours at Wisp and 8 inches over the past 24 hours at Snowshoe. They are even making snow at Liberty now that it is finally in the 20s and 30s! Unfortunately for them, the 50s are not far off in our 7-Day Forecast.