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The Blizzard of 1983 - Eastern US Weather Forums

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The Blizzard of 1983


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#1 MonsoonMike

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:51 PM

I'm doing some research on the Blizzard of 1983 just for personal, wanting to learn purposes. This blizzard was the one nearest and dearest to my heart for various reasons, of which would be too boring to explain.

But what I would like to talk about is anyone to give any information they have on the forecasting of the Blizzard of '83. How far out was it on the screens of prognosticators? How was the forecasting of this particular blizzard? Difficult? Rather easy? Were computer models used that far back? What was their reliability like?

Any information/pictures/etc. on the Blizzard of '83 appreciated!

#2 Noreaster07

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 12:54 PM

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#3 Fishmn

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:03 PM

If my memory serves I knew a storm was coming 3-4 days in advance. Cold wasnt a problem. I was the best snow of my life until 1993. Final total at the house was 23" but the snow was fine. Most of the precip fell at night in the low to mid teens.

#4 MdWx

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:44 PM

View PostMonsoonMike, on Feb 5 2007, 12:51 PM, said:

I'm doing some research on the Blizzard of 1983 just for personal, wanting to learn purposes. This blizzard was the one nearest and dearest to my heart for various reasons, of which would be too boring to explain.

But what I would like to talk about is anyone to give any information they have on the forecasting of the Blizzard of '83. How far out was it on the screens of prognosticators? How was the forecasting of this particular blizzard? Difficult? Rather easy? Were computer models used that far back? What was their reliability like?

Any information/pictures/etc. on the Blizzard of '83 appreciated!

Don Sutherland could be a good source. I contributed two pictures from that storm to him.

#5 MonsoonMike

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:44 PM

View PostFishmn, on Feb 5 2007, 01:03 PM, said:

If my memory serves I knew a storm was coming 3-4 days in advance. Cold wasnt a problem. I was the best snow of my life until 1993. Final total at the house was 23" but the snow was fine. Most of the precip fell at night in the low to mid teens.


Interesting snowfall map. The precip sure had a strong cutoff. Northern parts of the Poconos had an inch! And actually, I remember the heaviest snowfall during the afternoon where I was (just outside Philadelphia). I remember it starting in the morning around 10 a.m., becoming blizzard-like for the p.m. drive, and ending that night.

#6 Harry

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:50 PM

View PostMonsoonMike, on Feb 5 2007, 01:44 PM, said:

Interesting snowfall map. The precip sure had a strong cutoff. Northern parts of the Poconos had an inch! And actually, I remember the heaviest snowfall during the afternoon where I was (just outside Philadelphia). I remember it starting in the morning around 10 a.m., becoming blizzard-like for the p.m. drive, and ending that night.


Sounds about right as it got a little earlier head start down towards the DC area which is where i was for this event. I STILL rank this as my favorite of all time. Hard pressed to beat heavy snowfall rates, With a Thunder and Light show and to top that off it was a daytime event and ALL SNOW.

#7 Noreaster07

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:51 PM

A southeast PA special too bad I was only 1 year old

#8 gpickett

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:53 PM

View PostMdWx, on Feb 5 2007, 01:44 PM, said:

Don Sutherland could be a good source. I contributed two pictures from that storm to him.


It was pretty well forecast. I can recall listening to the forecast on NYC the night before and hearing a foot of snow. I'm sure snow was forecast at least 48 hours out. I know because I was planning a trip the night of the storm and ended up getting stuck in JFK. The final snow depths and rate might have been a bit of a surprise, but the warnings were up. I remember about 3 inches from 12 to 3 PM and six or more inches from 3 to 9. The rest fell overnight.

#9 Noreaster07

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:55 PM

View Postgpickett, on Feb 5 2007, 01:53 PM, said:

It was pretty well forecast. I can recall listening to the forecast on NYC the night before and hearing a foot of snow. I'm sure snow was forecast at least 48 hours out. I know because I was planning a trip the night of the storm and ended up getting stuck in JFK. The final snow depths and rate might have been a bit of a surprise, but the warnings were up. I remember about 3 inches from 12 to 3 PM and six or more inches from 3 to 9. The rest fell overnight.


I had heard from some people that the storm was supposed to miss to the south and forecasts were made for snow but it was supposed to be light and be the NW fringe of preicp, and that the forecasters were playing catch up.

#10 Fishmn

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 01:59 PM

View PostNoreaster07, on Feb 5 2007, 02:55 PM, said:

I had heard from some people that the storm was supposed to miss to the south and forecasts were made for snow but it was supposed to be light and be the NW fringe of preicp, and that the forecasters were playing catch up.


Too many years have passed but it was either PD1 or the 83 storm where WABC NYC on air Met Storm Field called for 4" the night before the storm. I remember him eating serious crow the next night.

#11 gpickett

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:05 PM

View PostNoreaster07, on Feb 5 2007, 01:55 PM, said:

I had heard from some people that the storm was supposed to miss to the south and forecasts were made for snow but it was supposed to be light and be the NW fringe of preicp, and that the forecasters were playing catch up.


I was going on a school trip overseas. My personal memory is listening to the forecast and being nervous that it was going to snow. The night before the storm, must have been a Thursday night, all the forecasts were for a big storm, a foot. There was talk of cancelling/postponing the trip. Instead of leaving for the airport at 6 PM, we all left at 3PM on Friday. It snowed about three inches before then and we had about six during the six hour bus trip from LI to JFK with drifting. We woke up in the AM to about 20 inches or so and pretty darn cold. Some pretty big drifts. Mayor Koch arrived in a Jeep to greet the storm refugees. We spent Saturday at the airport and Saturday night at a hotel in NYC. That trip to NYC only took about 4 hours. We were only the second or third flight out of the airport, or so we were told, at about 11 AM on Sunday.

#12 CAT5ANDREW

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:08 PM

I remember that storm well.THe forecast for NYC that morning was for 4-6 inches.the heaviest missing us.All morning long the overcast lowered and thickened.but you could still see the sun through the clouds.
At 1230 PM.it was still sunny enough to see your shadow.and I thought that it was going to miss us.At 1245PM.the overcast lowered rapidily and it became darker.and at exactly 1PM.the snow came in like a Squall.....and didnt stop untill 6AM the next morning and 24 inches later.
I will never forget the CG with the snow from 830PM untill midnight,We got a foot in about 3 hours.Craig Allen kept upping the totals every time he came on..The Only other storm that had equal intensity was the FEB 11th-12th 2006 storm.

#13 SEC

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:09 PM

From what I remember, it was one of the biggest forecast mistakes in my lifetime.

It had started to snow early that morning (Friday, Feb 11th) and about 4" was predicted for NYC. By the time I reached my subway stop at 8:30 a.m. there was easily an inch on the ground and it was snowing moderately/heavily. 45 minutes later I was delivered to my stop in Manhattan where the snow was beginning to stick on the streets (no small feat for the heat retaining streets there). By 10:00 the forecasted amount was raised and that predicted accumulation kept going up hourly. By 1:00 p.m., with 15+" expected, my office decided to close (midtown Manhattan was completely snow covered then).

A few beers to toast the upcoming weekend and I was on my way home. I got home, (stupidly) took my car out to pick up my then girlfriend and ended up ditching the car a few blocks away form my apartment after it got stuck in a snowbank. We ended up with 20" in southern Brooklyn.

I can't even begin to tell you the excitement of listening to the radio (WINS, 1010 all news station) when they kept upping the forecasted amounts between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

#14 CAT5ANDREW

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:16 PM

View PostSEC, on Feb 5 2007, 02:09 PM, said:

From what I remember, it was one of the biggest forecast mistakes in my lifetime.

It had started to snow early that morning (Friday, Feb 11th) and about 4" was predicted for NYC. By the time I reached my subway stop at 8:30 a.m. there was easily an inch on the ground and it was snowing moderately/heavily. 45 minutes later I was delivered to my stop in Manhattan where the snow was beginning to stick on the streets (no small feat for the heat retaining streets there). By 10:00 the forecasted amount was raised and that predicted accumulation kept going up hourly. By 1:00 p.m., with 15+" expected, my office decided to close (midtown Manhattan was completely snow covered then).

A few beers to toast the upcoming weekend and I was on my way home. I got home, (stupidly) took my car out to pick up my then girlfriend and ended up ditching the car a few blocks away form my apartment after it got stuck in a snowbank. We ended up with 18" in southern Brooklyn.

I can't even begin to tell you the excitement of listening to the radio (WINS, 1010 all news station) when they kept upping the forecasted amounts between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

THe storm you are talking about sounds like the FEB 6th 1978 storm.

#15 SEC

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:20 PM

View Postdbz80, on Feb 5 2007, 02:16 PM, said:

THe storm you are talking about sounds like the FEB 6th 1978 storm.


No. It was definitely the '83 storm.

I have a picture (somewhere) of my car in the snow (a 1980 Fiat Brava), which I had to dig out and take to the airport that following Sunday.

#16 BlizzardNole

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:25 PM

Nice map! I remember it well -- was in lower southern MD and suffered a little bit of a dry slot for a while, but still got 14". Areas NW of DC did great as seen on that map, 24" plus.

Anyway, my dad went into DC that day as the Fed Govt almost never closed then. He actually made it down Rt 4 from DC in his 1974 Dodge Charger LOL...but plows had put a big bank at the entrance of our neighborhood right along the highway. He sped up and took on the bank full speed.....BOOOMPH! Well......we dug it out the next morning.

I do remember the storm was well-forecasted. They were talking about it all week.

#17 CAT5ANDREW

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:27 PM

View PostSEC, on Feb 5 2007, 02:20 PM, said:

No. It was definitely the '83 storm.

I have a picture (somewhere) of my car in the snow (a 1980 Fiat Brava), which I had to dig out and take to the airport that following Sunday.

There was NO snow for NYC and LI before 1PM that day.

#18 YoRyz

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:39 PM

View PostNoreaster07, on Feb 5 2007, 01:51 PM, said:

A southeast PA special too bad I was only 1 year old


I was 12 years old...my first memory of paying attention to the NWS forecasts & watching TWC for hours & hours. I had an afternoon paper route, and I actually braved the snow & delivered my papers (all 24 of them). I was so excited to be out in it, I didn't care.

#19 gpickett

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:41 PM

View Postdbz80, on Feb 5 2007, 02:27 PM, said:

There was NO snow for NYC and LI before 1PM that day.


Yeah, that's my memory too. There was no snow on the ground when the storm started and it started early afternoon, sometime after 12.

#20 capecod04

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Posted 05 February 2007 - 02:43 PM

I remember the storm was forecast to move out to sea after dropping 6 to 12 in the Baltimore area and the sun was suppose to be out after noontime.. The greatest amounts were forcasted to be over Southern areas of VA..





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