Six years later, Snowmageddon still ranks among largest storms on record

PITTSBURGH — Just a few weeks after a major snowstorm blasted parts of the Northeast, eyes are on another system set to push through a few of the same areas next week.

While the upcoming storm isn't set to be a record-breaker, it will provide another dose of snow for some folks who have already spent time digging out from the January system.


Winter storms aren't uncommon in the Northeast and here in Pittsburgh; there is a good chance one will hit in January or February. One prime example is the massive storm of 2010, known as Snowmageddon.

Now in its sixth anniversary, folks are still reminiscing about the February 2010 storm that wreaked havoc in cities from the West Coast to the East Coast, but most notably the Mid-Atlantic. The storm caused more than 40 fatalities, including deaths in Mexico as well as the United States. 

Pittsburgh was the first major city to experience part of the nor'easter's heaviest snow, raking in 11.4 inches on Feb. 5 and an additional 9.7 inches on the 6th -- that's 21.1 inches in two days!

Three days later, almost 8 more inches of snow fell over a two-day span.

Snowmageddon is currently ranked as the fourth largest snowstorm on record, just behind the March blizzard of 1993 in which 25.3 inches of snow fell.

Storms of this caliber don't happen all that often. According to National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Fred McMullen, snowfall amounts that are greater than 16 inches in the Pittsburgh area usually happen once every 20 years.

As Severe Weather Team 11's meteorologists have mentioned many times before, a system's track can make a big difference in what or what doesn't happen in a neighborhood. Snowmageddon was no different.

"If the low pressure system tracks 50 miles to the north or 50 miles to the south, it can mean a difference of upwards of potentially a foot of snow, depending on how strong the low pressure system is across the region," said McMullen. "Any modifications or any shifts in that can mean a drastic difference in your forecast for your specific location."

In this case, the low pressure system traveled up the East Coast and nearly stalled just off the Delaware coast. As a result, the storm caused a period of prolonged moderate-to-heavy snowfall across southwest Pennsylvania before it departed out to sea.

The 2010 storm dropped heavy and wet snow on cities across the state, which caused more damage to trees and power lines compared to the blizzard of 1993. Power was out for thousands of people in southwestern Pennsylvania for a week or more.

In the end, the city of Pittsburgh spent several weeks clearing out. The cost of the clean-up from Snowmageddon, as well as the storm immediately following, added up to more than $5 million.

Comments on this article