by Terry Rogers
Before the National Weather Service began naming winter storms, most record-breaking snow and ice storms were simply labeled by the year they occurred. In 2010, a blizzard that crippled the East Coast was one that became known as something more than just the year, leading social media to dub the storm “Snowmaggedon.”
Snowmaggedon was actually a nor’easter which formed in the Pacific Ocean on February 2, 2010. It moved east through northern Mexico, producing over one foot of snow in higher elevations of New Mexico and shutting down major highways east of Albuquerque on February 3. The storm continued to drop rain and snow across Texas and Oklahoma. Meanwhile, a second disturbance formed, tracking from the central Rockies and bringing light snow across Montana and other parts of the Midwest.
On February 5, the two systems merged, dropping heavy snow throughout Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. When the northern system completely merged with the southern circulation, the blended storm intensified rapidly. Normally, storms of this type track into New England but a stationary upper-level trough in Canada blocked it from doing so, pushing the heaviest snowfall across New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware.
In this area, snow began falling just after dark on Friday, February 5 and continued throughout the day on Saturday. By the time the storm ended, Kent County had received 23.41 inches of snow while Sussex County saw an average of 21 inches. Less than three days later, another snowstorm dropped an additional 6 to 10 inches of snow in the area.
During the second storm, high winds accompanied the snow leading to more than 86,000 customers losing electricity throughout the area. Almost 400 members of the Delaware National Guard were activated and more than 150 Guard vehicles were used to rescue stranded motorists or perform other types of emergency responses. The Delaware Emergency Management Agency near Smyrna was staffed and operated around the clock from February 5 through February 14.
Snow continued to be a problem into March due to piles of snow piled in parking lots. Some piles blocked entrances to parks mostly used in the spring and summer because road crews had nowhere else to put it during February. Snowmaggedon cost $8.8 million with more than $6.7 million in snow removal costs.