Saturday, December 24, 2011

Weather History: Christmas Eve Storm 1966

Last year's snowstorm on December 26th was an impressive event for many, especially if you were east of the city...some of the Shore points picked up two feet of snow from the Boxing Day Storm.  While it was not an equal opportunity snow dumper for the whole region, it was still a nice footnote on the Christmas holiday for many.  The last "major" snowstorm of note in Philadelphia proper around the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day time frame was in 1966.  This storm had many hallmarks of the storm that impacted us this past January -- a strong low pressure center that was in a dynamically charged environment, producing thundersnow and thundersleet for the Mid Atlantic as it moved up the coast.   The vast majority of the storm occurred on Christmas Eve, with the brunt of the storm occurring between 4 and 8 PM in Philadelphia as thunder was reported in the observations over a four hour period.   Adding insult to injury were gusty winds, sustained at 25 mph at the top end of the storm in Philly with higher gusts while temperatures were in the lower 20's, bringing wind chill values in the lower single digits.   Winds were sustained as high as 31 mph in Atlantic City at the peak of the storm.

The result was a storm that plastered the region with a foot of snow in Philadelphia (12.7"), Allentown (13.3"), Wilmington (12.5"), and points north of there.  The Shore and South Jersey picked up lower amounts (about 6" in Vineland and Millville) thanks to sleet mixing in with the snow and avoiding the heaviest banding in the snowfall.   For Philadelphia, this is still the second biggest Christmas snow on record...only outdone by the Christmas Storm of 1909, which brought 21" of snow to the region.