Top 5 Winter Storms in February and How to Prepare Your Business

  • Feb 07, 2018

Notorious Winter Storms in February 

After a January filled with bitterly cold weather and batches of snow, many people throughout the northern U.S. hope February is a lot quieter. However, some of the country’s biggest winter storms – especially ones along the East Coast – have hit in the year’s second month. Winter storms in February are common and notorious for disruption operations across all sorts of industries.

Winter storms in February are also deadly. Just four years ago a large winter storm hit the East Coast. It brought freezing rain and ice to the Carolina’s and heavy snow to the Mid-Atlantic in the Northeast. This storm caused nearly a half-billion dollars in damage. It also killed at least 22 people.
Here is a list from our partner NOAA of the other noteworthy winter storms in February. If you’d like to read about the 10 worst blizzards in US winter weather history, regardless of the month, you should read our other blog post.

1956 Southern Plains Snowstorm

The first group of storms on the list impacted the southern Plains in 1956. A series of disturbances brought heavy snow to the area during the first week of the month. From February 1st-8th, the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle was the bulls eye for the heaviest accumulation. The system dumped an impressive 43 inches of snow on Vega, Texas. Other notable accumulations in Texas include 24 inches in Hereford and 14 inches in Amarillo.

In spots, snow fell for almost four straight days. The system completely interrupted travel and killed hundreds of cattle. To feed the surviving livestock, food had to be airlifted thanks to closed and dangerous roadways.

Blizzard of 1978

The next blizzard on our list of winter storms in February occured in 1978. Following on the heels of “The Great Blizzard of 1978” this February system reached the Each Coast on the 5th. It continued to impact the region until the 8th.

The storm intensified rapidly off the Mid-Atlantic Coast and then slowed down due to a sprawling high pressure center in eastern Canada. This created prolonged high winds and heavy snow throughout the Northeast. Gusts hit 80-to-90 mph from Boston to Cape Code, with 1-to-3 feet of snow for New England. Boston had its greatest snowstorm on record at the time with 27.1 inches while the same can be said in Providence, R.I., where 27.6 inches accumulated.

President’s Day Blizzard of 2003

In 2003, low pressure tracked from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Carolina’s bringing heavy snow along its northern and western periphery February 14-19. The Interstate-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to Boston got socked with 15-to-36 inches of snow.

Baltimore saw a record 28.8 inches, making this the biggest snowstorm on record for the city. The weight of the snow was so great that it caused the roof of the historic B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore to collapse. Up in Boston, totals surpassed the Blizzard of 1978 with 27.5 inches.

Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011

Groundhog day normally means we find out if there are going to be six more weeks of winter, but in 2011 it was the day winter struck the eastern half of the U.S. hardest.

This storm tracked from Texas to the western Great Lakes February 1-2 while a strong high pressure in the Midwest transported cold air to the Mississippi Valley.

The result? Ice paralyzed southwestern Iowa before 1-to-2 feet blanketed the area. Locations from southern Wisconsin to northern Missouri saw the snow and wind gusts of 55-to-70 mph along the western shores of Lake Michigan. Milwaukee and Chicago even reported thundersnow. Drifts reached 4-to-10 feet, shutting down parts of Interstates 43 and 94.

Pre-Valentine’s Day Winter Storm of 2014 

The last notorious February winter storm on this list is the Pre-Valentine’s Day Winter Storm of 2014. Between February 12-13, low pressure swept up the East Coast and produced 1-to-3 feet of snow from the Mid-Atlantic to eastern New England.

Roanoke, V.A., piled up 19 inches. There, it was the highest two-day snow total since 1912. More than one inch of ice coated northern South Carolina. Ice amounts reached three-quarters of an inch from eastern North Carolina to central Alabama.

During this storm, at least 9 people died across the Atlanta area. The storm’s conditions also canceled 70 percent of flights in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Charlotte. The storm also left more than 200,000 people without power in South Carolina where President Obama declared a disaster following the storm.

How To Prepare Your Business

This February could see some more historical snowfalls. As you can see, these storms were extremely disruptive and dangerous in the areas they impacted. Therefore, it’s very important for governments and businesses to prepare.

There are plenty of ways to prepare for a big winter storm. One way is with a weather visualization and alerting software. Our latest solution, Sferic Maps, empowers decision-makers with real-time, hyperlocal weather data and winter weather warnings from the National Weather Service. That way, businesses can make the best weather-related decisions possible. You can give Sferic Maps a test drive for free today.

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You can also read about how real-time weather data helps businesses plan for winter weather through our work with the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. Stay safe and warm this February and be on the look out for the next big winter storm!

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