BY Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
What kind of year will 2018 be? Well if the first winter storm of the year is any indication, it will be a weather bomb.
The first blizzard of North America whacked the entire East Coast of the United States, including New York Harbor, with snow, ice, high winds, extreme cold, and tidal flood conditions.
On Thursday, January 4, a storm began early in the morning around New York Harbor with snow. But this was no ordinary snowstorm. This would turn out to be an historic event: a nor’easter that intensified and rivaled the strength of a hurricane due to bombogenesis.
Bombogenesis sounds like a childish word until you know what is means. According to Live Science, it’s a “meteorology term that refers to a storm (generally a non-tropical one) that intensifies very rapidly. Bomb cyclones tend to happen more in the winter months and can carry hurricane-force winds and cause coastal flooding and heavy snow.”
NOAA states that bombogenesis “occurs when a midlatitude or 60° latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.” The closer you are to the center of the storm, the stronger the winds. In this case the center of the storm had hurricane force winds over 75 mph.
The storm originated on January 3 as an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle. It dumped a half-foot of snow and ice in places that rarely receive wintry precipitation, even in the winter, such as Florida and Georgia. Along the coast of Massachusetts, the powerful winds brought coastal flooding that reached historic levels in some communities with icy water overflowing piers and stranding people and damaging cars.
According to CBS News, “Summit conditions at Mount Washington were so brutally cold Saturday morning the temperature tied for the second coldest on Earth, according to Mount Washington Observatory. The temperature hit minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit -- with a wind chill of minus 90 degrees (minus 68 degrees Celsius), according to the educational and research institution in New Hampshire.”
For New York Harbor, it was located along the outer edges of the storm. Yet, it was still banged around hard with 8 to 15 inches of snow in New York City and its suburbs, high wind gusts up to 50 mph and blowing snow through the night, followed by extreme cold temperatures into the weekend with readings in the teens and single digits. With the wind chill, it felt like minus 20 degrees on Friday night.
Close to 10" of snow was deposited around Sandy Hook Bay, NJ from the January 4, 2018 storm.
Below are some snow totals in inches around New York Harbor:
Sheepshead Bay 12.0 700 PM
Central Park 9.8 700 PM
Howard Beach 13.2 630 PM
Jackson Heights 12.0 716 PM
Whitestone 10.7 600 PM
NYC/JFK Airport 8.0 700 PM
NYC/LaGuardia Airpor 7.4 700 PM
Great Kills 10.8 651 PM
Newark Airport 8.4 700 PM
According to the meteorologists at the Weather Channel, the first winter storm of 2018 “was one of the most intense western Atlantic winter storms in decades, clobbering the East Coast with blizzard conditions and major coastal flooding after bringing one of the heavier snow and ice events to parts of the Southeast.”
Could this winter storm have been caused by climate change? As the world continues to warm there is no doubt that this warming triggers many changes to the Earth’s climate and to “typical” weather conditions, including the jet stream, which normally acts to keep cold air around the pole. A recent article in the New York Times tells us that some scientists are studying the connection between climate change and cold spells, which occur when cold Arctic air dips south, and that they may be related.
Certainly, changes in the weather and climate events, such as intense winter storms, are the primary way that most people experience climate change. We better get used to it, extreme weather events seem to be the new normal.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell