Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Happy Anniversary March 2001 'Blizzard'

Five years ago this week the infamous March 2001 'Blizzard' impacted the Philadelphia area. Computer models that generated snow measured in feet soon backpedaled and took the snow further north, past Philadelphia, into New England. What looked like a potential paralyzing snow for the Delaware Valley was soon replaced by a small dumping of slush, frayed nerves, death threats, and perhaps what went down as one of the most colassal forecast busts in Mid-Atlantic history.

Some places did quite well in the storm. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and other parts of New England got a nice storm. However, this did not play out for the Mid-Atlantic and ended up leading to the eventual departure of a TV meteorologist from Philadelphia TV a couple of years later.

Many computer models predicted a large storm coming up the East Coast of the US and the common perception was that over one foot of snowfall would occur that Monday. This storm has gone down in local legend as the ‘John Bolaris Storm’ because former NBC 10 meteorologist John Bolaris, according to many who wrote me and many others in conversation over the time I have lived here, was leading the charge calling for big snow. Text crawls ran on the bottom of the television screen during the prime time lineup on NBC in the days before the storm because NBC 10 wanted to grab the viewers and tie them into the coverage. Bolaris received significant amounts of hate mail and even received death threats about the inch of slush that fell in Philadelphia. “You disgust me. People like you should not be on the planet” and “If I owned a gun, there would be one less person I'd need to worry about” were two such death threats sent to him.

  • Great Link (maps, discussion, etc.) on March 5th 2001 snowstorm: Ray Martin's New Jersey Storm Archive

  • Central Pennsylvania Perspective on the Storm from National Weather Service in State College

  • CNN: Storm Threatens East Coast