Recalling The Holiday Blizzard Of 2010


By Greg Machos
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 or cancelled.

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 tournaments in.

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 cancelled.


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