March 2 - 4 1960
Snowfall amounts with this late season nor'easter ranged from six inches along the Ohio River to a foot in the mountains. Higher elevation in the central West Virginia Mountains topped 20 inches. This was the third highest average snow producing Nor'easter.
It was precluded by surface high pressure over the mid Atlantic on the 2nd, while a second high pressure built into the northern plains. The high pressure over the mid-Atlantic was stubborn and was not initially displaced by a developing low pressure across Mississippi and Alabama area. The high was shoved aside by 00Z on the 3rd when the surface cyclone in the Gulf Coast states headed northeast. With the close proximity between the high and low pressure, a strong pressure gradient developed bringing windy conditions to West Virginia. Coastal cyclogenesis commenced off the Carolina coastline between 00Z and 12Z on the 3rd. The coastal low raced up the eastern seaboard reaching the Jersey shoreline by the evening of the 3rd. The coastal low deepened 45mb in 30hrs from 6Z on the 3rd to 12Z on the 4th. The minimum central pressure fell to 960mb off New England. As the surface low hugged the eastern seaboard, the occluded low traversed up the windward side of the Appalachians. As the surface low passed east of the southern Appalachians, an inverted trough of low pressure developed that focused moderate to heavier snow in the mountains.
The 850mb analysis was most interesting. A low initiated in the southern high plains then intensified rapidly across Texas due to a low level jet. By 00Z on the 3rd, the low became cut off in the vicinity of Memphis, TN. Height falls upstream of the low allowed a continued northeast propagation through March 3rd into the 4th. The 850mb moved from southwestern Tennessee to Roanoke, VA in a span of 12 hours, which correlated well with the swift movement of the surface cyclone. Strong cyclonic flow on the backside of the system kept snow going in the West Virginia Mountains. As the 850mb low passed south and east of the West Virginia, 850mb temperatures remained between 0C to -5C, which kept the thermal profile conducive for snow.
A negatively tilted 500mb trough strengthened as it ejected out of the Rockies. Meanwhile an upper level jet deepened as the trough propagated eastward across the Gulf Coast states on the 2nd and 3rd. A cut off low developed on the evening of the third over the eastern Great Lakes. The upper low then moved into the Atlantic and intensified further, while yet another low dove into the elongated trough axis that extended from the western Great Lakes to the New England.
Back To Nor'easter page