National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A strong northern stream shortwave dropping SSE from the Canadian Prairies phased with a southern stream wave tracking eastward from the southern Plains to the coastal Carolinas from 1/27 through the morning of 1/29. A closed upper low quickly formed by the evening of the 29th as the phased shortwave tracked just off the northeast US coast. Meanwhile, at the surface, low pressure formed along a cold front off the coast of Georgia during the day on 1/28, while a secondary, Arctic cold front approached the local area from the south. A band of snow (associated with mid-level frontogenesis) slowly tracked across the northwest half of the area during the evening of the 28th, dropping a quick 1-3" from north of Farmville to Colonial Beach. The surface low offshore of the GA/SC coast rapidly deepened as it tracked NNE off the Mid-Atlantic coast during the early morning hours of 1/29 (this was a classic "Miller A" setup). The low deepened even further as it approached Cape Cod during the day on 1/29. A large area of moderate to occasionally heavy snow set up near the coast while the band that was inland weakened overnight. The heaviest snow was confined to an area near a band of 700mb frontogenesis (with the 700mb layer in the dendritic growth zone). There was also some transient slantwise and even upright instability just above the 700mb layer during the early morning on 1/29 on the eastern shore, resulting in bands of 1.5-2"/hour snow rates at times. In addition, temperatures dropped below freezing during the early morning hours of the 29th as winds turned from the N to NNW as that secondary cold front/cold air advection push crossed the area. Snow ended from SSW to NNE during the morning and midday hours of 1/29 as temperatures fell into the 20s. Some very impressive (8-14") snow totals were observed over the Lower Eastern Shore, with 2-6" from Hampton Roads to the VA Northern Neck, and 0.5-3" inland. While the snow that fell initially (during the evening of 1/28) was heavy and wet (with temperatures right around 32F), the snow became powdery and drier at the tail end of the event as temperatures dropped into the 20s. Combined with N-NW winds gusting to 35-45mph on the Lower Eastern, blizzard conditions occurred. In fact, these were the first Blizzard Warnings issued for anywhere in the Wakefield CWA since early January of 2018. Even after the snow ended, Salisbury Airport (KSBY) reported several hours of blowing snow with visibilities of around 3 miles.  


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