There have been no reports of substantial structural damage to date despite an estimated 40 million people being affected by the Feb. 8-9 winter storm that dumped huge amounts of snow on areas stretching from New York into Canada, AIR Worldwide reports.
The fierce storm from New York 500 miles ( 800 km) north to Maine and then into Canada brought with it deep snow, high gusting winds and significant storm surge along the New England coast, the catastrophe modelling firm reported yesterday.
The storm formed “when a strong coastal disturbance that had developed along the Delmarva Peninsula moved from over the Atlantic and interacted with an upper-level trough that had been bringing widespread snowfall from the Great Lakes across upstate New York,” Tim Doggett, principal scientist at AIR Worldwide, explains in a statement from AIR Worldwide. “As the two systems approached each other, the energy from the Great Lakes system came into phase with the coastal low pressure system — and the coastal storm rapidly intensified and tracked northeastward,” Doggett reports.
“As the strengthened storm tracked into the Canadian Maritimes, it impacted the entire U.S. eastern seaboard from New York City to Portland, Maine, while also bringing heavy snow and gusty winds inland across Connecticut and Rhode Island and into western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and interior Maine,” he adds.
In coastal areas, Doggett reports, “strong winds knocked out power and caused significant tidal surge. Wind gusts of 83 miles per hour (130 kph) were recorded at Falmouth, Massachusetts, while storm surge impacted many coastal communities from Cape Cod north to New Hampshire.”
Some affected areas received more rain yesterday, with temperatures expected to fall below freezing by nightfall. “The snow will absorb the water and the added weight on snow-covered roofs will increase, as also on trees and other structures that could collapse and cause damage,” notes AIR Worldwide.
Doggett reports that several mitigating factors have limited damage so far, including the following:
• the region was not already covered by earlier snow when the storm arrived;
• the storm’s snow was of a relatively low density in much of the region, thereby minimizing the weight of the snow pack;
• the sustained winds were not quite as strong as they were forecast to be, lessening snow drifting and tree damage; and
• temperatures for the next couple days are expected to be above freezing.
In a special weather statement for Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego in New York, the National Weather Service in the United States reports there will be light to occasionally moderate snow gradually diminishing by mid-morning. “Untreated roads will become snow-covered and very slippery,” adds the statement issued Tuesday morning.
Environment Canada has also posted a number of warnings for parts of Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. For the Chevery and Blanc-Sablon regions in Quebec, “strong winds combined with snow will reduce visibilities to near zero over these regions beginning this evening.”
A low-pressure system over New Brunswick will reach Newfoundland and Labrador Wednesday morning while increasing. “The combination of these winds with snow will reduce visibilities significantly.”
Snowfall accumulations of 15 to 20 cm are expected over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Burgeo-Ramea region by this evening and over the Green Bay-White Bay region by Wednesday morning. Southeasterly winds gusting to 110 kph will develop in the Wreckhouse area in southwestern Newfoundland this morning.
The low-pressure system will also bring strong winds to Nova Scotia’s Inverness County (Mabou and north). “Potentially hazardous winds – Les Suetes – are occurring in these regions and over adjacent coastal waters,” Environment Canada reports. Strong southeast winds ahead of the system “will give Les Suetes wind gusts to 110 km/h this morning from Margaree Harbour to Bay St. Lawrence.”