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2016-01-23

Historic Eastern United States Winter Storm of 22-24 January 2016: Record snow along the megalopolitan corridor:The storm developed as a strong 500 hPa shortwave moved into the southern Plains (Fig. 3) and across the Gulf States. This short-wave originated over the North Pacific Ocean (not shown). As this wave moved eastward, strong convergence developed over the northeastern United States (Fig. 3a-d). A strong 250 hPa jet developed in this region (Fig. 6). At 1200 UTC 22 January 2016 (Fig. 6b) a well-developed “banana jet” was present over the eastern United states with an implied jet entrance over the Ohio Valley. At 850 hPa on 22 January a strong 850 hPa LLJ was present with -4850 hPa u-wind anomalies (Fig. 5a-c). The heavy snow (Fig. 2) in south-central Kentucky fell in close proximity to this strong 850 hPa easterly jet. As the pattern shifted eastward, the 250 hPa winds peaked along the East Coast around 0000 UTC 23 January 2016 (Fig. 7c). Between 0000 and 0600 UTC the 850 hPa jet had strengthened along the Mid-Atlantic coast (Fig. 8a-c) with -6850 hPa u-wind anomalies. This strong LLJ was associated with the QPE and snow maximum across the Mid-Atlantic region from West Virginia across northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. During this period the coastal cyclone deepened as it moved up the coast (Fig. 9). The surface cyclone pressure in the CFS was about -4 below normal. The strong 250 hPa jet and the strong easterly flow at 850 hPa are well known features associated with many major and historic East Coast Winter storms. This storm with -6 850 hPa jet was one of the strongest ECWS in recent memory and the 850 hPa u-wind anomalies were on the same scale as those observed during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The strong 850 hPa winds were a known signal for a potential record setting event. The storm was generally well forecast with the notable exception of the heavy snow which fell well north of many forecast system predictions.

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