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Looking Back at New England's Spring Blitz of Storms this Season

After a mostly lackluster winter for much of New England in the snow department, meteorological spring came along and the snow really started falling for northern New England. From mid-March to early April, four impactful storms rolled through New England, bringing heavy snow, soaking rain and, in some cases, icing, wind and power outages.

Before this stretch of weather in New England, it was New England's neighbor, Nova Scotia, that was getting all the snow in February. We noted in an article that if the pattern was set up just a bit differently, it would have been New England getting in all the snow. In February, parts of the province saw upwards of 80 inches of snow.

Heading into March, the pattern shifted, allowing New England to get in on the precipitation parade after February produced below average precipitation for most of New England. The most important change in the pattern was the formation of a Greenland Block. This led to a negative North Atlantic Oscillation along with a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation. This setup, especially toward the end of winter, is perfect for coastal storm formation along the east coast.

The first storm, which occurred from March 9-10, brought a general 8-14 inches of snow to the Green and White Mountains, along with flooding rains and yet another round of intense coastal flooding for the northern coast. During the night of March 20, just after the official kickoff to spring, a potent clipper system zipped through New England, delivering another 8-14 inches for some spots in northern areas.

As we continued to dig deeper into spring, the storms intensified. Just a couple days after the clipper system, a major storm brought 6 inches of snow to much of northern New England, with a large swath of 12-24+ inches with a maximum of about 33 inches in West Windsor, Vermont. The Green Mountains more or less got hammered in March to the point where Killington Mountain Resort dubbed the month "Miracle March" after a lackluster winter for snowfall.

This storm also brought another round of soaking rain to central and southern New England and rapid ice accretion to the Maine coastal plain. This ice caused a rapid power outage. After steering clear of major outages, the evening of March 23rd saw an extremely rapid rise in outages. As late as 7pm, outages across New England sat under 5,000, as they did throughout the day. By 11pm, outages had ballooned past 200,000 amid extensive tree damage, mainly across York, Cumberland, Sagadoc and Lincoln Counties in Maine.

Icing in Maine in late March (Josh Barret)

In early April, the final storm of this spring blitz came along, bringing yet another widespread 12-24 inches of snow for northern New England. This last storm of the stretch brought snow farther south than the previous storms with portions of the Berkshires and Worcester Hills seeing over a half foot. This storm, a full fledged nor'easter brought strong winds and coastal flooding as well, leading to another round of significant power outages, especially to the already hard hit York and Cumberland Counties.

This storm was a long-duration event due to the aforementioned Greenland Block. The storm stalled out and did a loop in the Gulf of Maine. While the storm did weaken as it sat in the Gulf of Maine, it brought continued snow showers to the mountains for days.

Damage in Maine in early April; (Central Maine Power)

When all was said and done, the snowfall amounts weren't record breaking or anything like that, but it came as a shock after one of the warmest winters on record for most of New England and far below average snow depth. Coming into March, there was little snow on the ground outside the mountains.

Most areas had a snow depth of six inches or less. On March 1st, Chimney Pond in Baxter State Park had a snow depth of 17 inches. By March 26th, the park reached its maximum snow depth for the month at 53 inches. The maximum amount of snow dropped in New England from these four storms adds up to 85 inches.

Northeast snow depth on March 1st (1st image) and April 6th (2nd image):

As one would expect with spring snowfalls, it was rather elevation dependent. In March, there were plenty of areas that saw below average snowfall for the month. Of course, this (and the map below) doesn't include the most widespread snowfall that occurred at the beginning of April.

Despite the excessive snowfall for some, this stretch of weather continued the above average temperature trend for New England. This led to wet, heavy snow (along with icing and sleet). All of these storms caused power disruption (with the exception of the quick-hitting clipper). The other three storms combined to produce nearly 750,000 outages across New England, with over half a million happening in Maine.

A entire row of power lines down in Weare, NH (Unitil)

Overall, it was an extremely wet month and record breaking, or near record breaking in some cases, for precipitation (frozen and unfrozen water combined) totals. Bangor saw by far their wettest March on record, seeing just under 9 inches of precipitation. Caribou and Houlton also saw record months.

Southern New England (mostly) missed the snow, but they made up for it in rainfall. Each of these storms brought 1-3+ inch rain amounts along with constantly rising rivers. As we now enter into mid-April, the pattern is finally beginning to ease up. Snowfall (outside of the highest peaks) has just about wrapped up and no major storms are in the pipeline heading toward the end of April.



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