June 13, 2013
It is rare to get
a Christmas snow here in New Jersey and the rest of the New York Metro
area. Winter has just begun, and the real cold air is just starting
to make its presence felt. Usually, the peak of the winter season in
the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is at the end of January into February.
However, for the first time since 1946, there would be a memorable Christmas
snowstorm in the Garden State.
Just a day after
Christmas, the forecasts were becoming more and more certain that there
would not only be snow, but also a very powerful blizzard. Snowfall
amounts from the storm would end up ranging between 18 and 24 inches
across the Metro area. The storm struck at a time when schools were
closed for the holiday, but the high school basketball season still
took a hit with many Christmas Tournaments being either rescheduled
Places such as Red
Bank in Monmouth County were hit the hardest. Dramatic video from news
stations covering the storm there depicted blinding snow and fierce
wind from the storm system. Despite the hard hit from the paralyzing
snowstorm, the Red Bank school district along with many others along
the Jersey Shore moved heaven and earth to get their holiday basketball
Covering boys high
school basketball in the area, it was a very chaotic week for me getting
out to gyms only to find games had been cancelled or postponed. The
start of a game between St. Joseph's and Lincoln of Jersey City at the
Joe Silver Holiday Tournament in Hillside was delayed for almost two
hours because Lincoln from Jersey City, had difficulty getting to the
gym. The game was played though, and St. Joseph's won.
The blizzard produced
white-out conditions on Interstate 280 in Essex County. Approximately
100 accidents occurred on the Garden State Parkway while some 1,400
flights at all three metro airports: Newark, JFK, and LaGuardia. The
NFL football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia
Eagles was postponed due to safety reasons.
The storm came on
the Sunday after Christmas. It was forecast to begin by late morning,
so I had made it a point to get outside early for a run since I knew
it might be a while before I could go out and run. There was plenty
of cold air in place as I dressed warmly for my workout. Starting before
noon, the storm began to really kick in during the late afternoon hours.
Snowfall really began to pile up in earnest here in Middlesex County
at that point.
I hunkered down
in the house and watched the storm unfold on television as many of the
local stations provided non-stop news coverage. Periodically, I would
go outside to take measurements of the snow. Here in South Plainfield,
the storm would end up dumping 17 inches while the barometer plummeted
to 29.08 inches of Hg, or 985 millibars, which is equivalent to a minimal
hurricane. In a span of 20 hours, the barometer fell some 70 inches,
or 23 millibars. A rate of 3.5 inches, or 1.2 millibars per hour. Winds
at the GWC weather station, which is close to the ground, were sustained
at 31 miles per hour, which is among the highest winds ever recorded
at the station.
Gusts of over 50
miles per hour were reported along the coast. Meanwhile, in New York
City, some 20 inches fell in Central Park, which was just shy of the
snowfall from the memorable Blizzard of 1996. It was, however, far short
of the snowfall that fell in the Blizzard of 2006, which was 26.9 inches.
The powerful storm would be the opening salvo in a brutal winter. A
number of other snowstorms followed in one of the snowiest winters on
record. The subsequent snows made things very difficult for schools
trying to avoid snow days. More high school basketball games would be
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