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2015 – 2016: The Winter That Almost Wasn't, Until Snowzilla Stomped In


After a warmer than usual November 2015 yielded many days in the 70s and 80s along the east coast, December followed suit, delivering record-shattering highs on Christmas Eve, which could have been celebrated as a day at the beach for some.

For the first ten days of 2016, the New Year cruised in to continued, unseasonably warm weather. Then on January 12th, a clipper system sailed in bringing a brief blast of cold air and snow squalls to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Within a week, an arctic front delivered cold temps that locked-in, generating the season’s first substantial snow storms. A few days later a strong Alberta clipper blew in dumping a few inches during evening rush hour traffic, a wake-up call that was soon followed by news and weather media warning of a major impending winter storm. After this one was said and done, a massive, historic blizzard would dump up to 3 feet of snow in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, garnering unofficial names like “Snowstorm Jonas” and “Snowzilla”.

1-22-16: Snowzilla starts to gestate over Texas.

Snowzilla gestated over Texas on January 21, prompting the governors of Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the mayor of Washington, D.C., to declare a preemptive state of emergency in anticipation of the approaching blizzard beast. They weren’t the only ones making preparations for what was to follow January 22 – 24, 2016.

Snowzilla out in full force, 1-23-16.

Across our seven state footprint, Snow and Ice Management Company was ready to do battle with the beast in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. Our network of snowfighters were just itching for a fight after weeks of waiting out unseasonably warm weather. Tons of rock salt and thousands of gallons of liquid salt brine were provided by The Salt Factory, a division of Snow and Ice Management Company. One of the biggest battles took place at the Port of Newark where fleets of trucks and giant snow moving machines led by our crews leveled the playing field and literally opened miles upon miles of asphalt and port pavement. 

Chuck Lantzman, SIMCO CEO, took this picture right before the Port of Newark was about to receive major snow removal services during Snowzilla storm event.

Further south in Maryland, our snowfighters there battled storm accumulations of about 3” an hour resulting in final storm snowfalls of 2 – 3 feet of snow. 

In a typical winter season, Mid-Atlantic states see between 15 and 25 inches of snow, yet Snowzilla surpassed season totals when it stomped through those few days in January.

Snow removal services underway at the Port of Newark during Snowzilla, January, 2016.

February 2016 started with a warm trend leftover from late January which went to work melting what Snowzilla left in its wake. This was short-lived. By the first weekend, rain was changing to snow and sleet, with Delaware receiving three inches of the mix. As temps continued to fall, a few days later 3-7 inches fell west of the I-95 corridor, with the heaviest snowfalls around the Mason-Dixon Line. By Valentine’s Day the Northeast had temps barely in the 20s and turned out to be the coldest stretch of the winter. On February 15th, a winter storm spread 2-4 inches of snow in the Baltimore, MD / Washington, DC corridor, while southern Maryland to Fredericksburg, VA received 4-9 inches thanks to pounding, intense band of snow. February exited as it entered, on a warm trend, this time reaching into the 60s on numerous occasions.

What started out as an unseasonably warm winter looked like it was going to end that way, with the anticipation of an early spring. Once again the winter of 2015-2016 did its flip-flop with the early days of March diving from the 60s into a snowstorm that dumped between 1-5 inches in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The mercury did a yo-yo move again jumping into the 80s, then back to freezing in late March yielding light traces of snow, repeating a similar pattern in April, when everyone thought winter was over!

We at Snow and Ice Management Company have put together a sampling of snow totals for the 2015-2016 winter season for locations throughout our seven-state service footprint. Some locations received a majority of their season totals during Snowzilla:

Allentown, PA: 35.8”, Altoona, PA: 21.9”, Camp Hill, PA: 41.1”, Carlisle, PA: 42.4”, Cranberry, PA: 20.2”, Lancaster, PA: 38.3”, Monroeville, PA: 18.8”, Langhorne, PA: 64”, North Fayette, PA: 26.3”, Oaks, PA: 35.8”, Philadelphia, PA: 29.5”, Pittsburgh, PA: 20.0”, Reading, PA: 34.8”, Scranton, PA: 15.6”, Warminster, PA: 32.0”, Washington, PA: 23.1”, West Chester, PA: 38.1”, West Grove, PA: 34.4”, West Mifflin, PA: 18.5”, York, PA: 41.0”

Akron, OH: 38.3”, Cincinnati, OH: 14.7”, Columbus, OH: 14.4, Dayton, OH: 13.8”, Toledo, OH: 24.9”

Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD: 2.7”, Baltimore, MD: 35.2”, Bel Air South, MD: 38.9”, Fort Meade, MD: 33.5”, Fruitland, MD: 26.2”, Hyattsville, MD: 32.5”, Waldorf, MD: 36.3”

Rehoboth Beach, DE: 21.7”, Wilmington, DE: 27.0”

Berlin, NJ: 30.6”, Burlington, NJ: 31.2”, Byram, NJ: 32.5”, East Brunswick, NJ: 33.8”, Eatontown, NJ: 37.9”, Elizabeth, NJ: 36.5”, Flemington, NJ: 33.5”, Franklin, NJ: 25.0”, Manahawkin, NJ: 27.1”, Maple Shade, NJ: 28.0”, Monroe, NJ: 33.9”, Pennsville, NJ: 26.6”, Pine Hill, NJ: 30.6”, Stanhope, NJ: 35.3”    

Chantilly, VA: 35.7”, Chincoteague, VA: 14.7”, Herndon, NJ: 36.1”, Oakton, NJ: 34.1”

Elkins, WV: 47.7”, Beckley, WV: 36.8”, Charleston, WV: 30”

Animation of January Blizzard 2016




Winter Storm Jonas: a historic storm




Massive Snowstorm Shuts Down East Coast  ABC News