WINTER STORM SUMMARY FOR
MARCH 16, 2014 TO MARCH 17, 2014 EVENT
A cold front settled south of our area during late Saturday, March 15th. As this occurred, much colder air was seeping southward Sunday. An area of low pressure developed along the front and moisture arrived across the Delmarva during the evening of March 16th. This was mainly in the form of snow, which gradually spread northward. Given the presence of high pressure to our northwest and drier air pushing farther south into our area, the northern extent of the snow shield during the morning hours of March 17th only reached as far north as about the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and I-195 in New Jersey. The storm system quickly exited to our east during the mid to late morning hours of March 17th.
A Winter Storm Watch was issued at 3:02 PM Saturday, March 15th for the following areas: In Maryland, Cecil, Kent, Queen Annes, Talbot and Caroline counties; In Delaware, New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties; and in New Jersey, Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic counties. At 3:30 AM March 16th, the Winter Storm Watch was upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning for the following areas: In Maryland, Queen Annes, Talbot and Caroline counties; In Delaware, Kent and Sussex counties; and in New Jersey, Cape May county. At this same time, the Winter Storm Watch was changed to a Winter Weather Advisory for the following areas: In Maryland, Cecil and Kent counties; In Delaware, New Castle county; and in New Jersey, Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland and Atlantic counties. Also at this time, a Winter Weather Advisory was issued for Camden, Southeastern Burlington, Ocean and Coastal Atlantic counties. At 2:44 PM March 16th, the Winter Weather Advisory area mentioned above was upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning. In addition at this time, a Winter Weather Advisory was issued for the following areas: In Pennsylvania, Delaware, Philadelphia, Western Chester, Eastern Chester, Eastern Montgomery and Lower Bucks counties; and in New Jersey, Middlesex, Western Monmouth, Eastern Monmouth, Mercer and Northwestern Burlington counties.
At 9:33 AM March 17th, the Winter Storm Warning was cancelled for the following areas in New Jersey; Camden, Ocean, Coastal Ocean and Southeastern Burlington counties. It remained in effect farther to the south. Also at this time, the Winter Weather Advisory was cancelled for the following areas: In Pennsylvania, Delaware, Philadelphia, Western Chester, Eastern Chester, Eastern Montgomery and Lower Bucks counties; and in New Jersey, Middlesex, Western Monmouth, Eastern Monmouth, Mercer and Northwestern Burlington counties. At 11:51 AM, the remaining Winter Storm Warning was allowed to expire at Noon.
Mild temperatures occurred on March 15th and even into the 16th, although the passage of a cold front late on the 15th allowed for colder air to start moving into the area. As this occurred, drier air was also settling southward as low pressure developed along the front that was draped to our south. As moisture moved in and the colder air continued to build southward, an area of snow overspread the Delmarva region during the evening hours of the 16th. This then gradually shifted northward during the night and also during the early morning hours of the 17th. As this occurred, much colder air continued to settle southward and this resulted in temperatures falling through the 20s during the early morning hours of the 17th. The presence of much drier air from the north though, resulted in a sharp gradient and cutoff to the snowfall amounts from south to north. The majority of the accumulating snow was from about the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-195 (in New Jersey) on southward. The bulk of the accumulating snow occurred during the early morning hours of the 17th.
The snow fell at nearly an inch per hour at times during the height of the storm across eastern Maryland, Delaware, southern New Jersey and toward Philadelphia where some snow bands were especially evident. The higher snowfall rates in combination with much colder air and this occurring mostly at night, resulted in accumulating snow on all surfaces. The winds were from the north and northeast generally at 10 to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph especially during the height of the storm.
The combination of much colder air moving into the area during the night of the 16th with increased snowfall rates, resulted in hazardous traveling conditions for the morning commute on March 17th. An initial warmer ground allowed for melting on the roadways, however temperatures dropped through the 20s and the snow fell moderate to heavy at times, which allowed for slippery conditions to develop on untreated surfaces. The combination of gusty winds during the height of the storm produced areas of some blowing and drifting snow in open areas, especially as the snow became fluffier during the early morning hours of the 17th. Numerous school districts had a 2-hour delay during the morning of the 17th, while many other schools closed for the day from eastern Maryland, Delaware and then across southern New Jersey. The conditions improved toward the midday hours as the snow ended. Despite the cloud cover that remained with some light snow, the higher March sun angle allowed for enough solar radiation to help with improving the road conditions.
Information contained in this summary is preliminary. More complete and/or detailed information may be contained in subsequent monthly NOAA storm data publications.