The month of February 2010 featured one of the most prolific months of sustained winter weather in Garrett County History. Most of the snow fell during three major blizzards that impacted not only Garrett County but the entire Northeast. The series of blizzards took place on Feb 5th-6th, Feb 9th-11th, and Feb 25th-27th. By the end of the month, over 110 inches had fallen in Garrett County. To put the month of February 2010 in perspective, of the top 25 all time highest rated snow storms on the NESIS (Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale), 3 occurred during February 2010.
- Feb 5th-6th Blizzard
The blizzard of Feb 5th and 6th was unusual in that it was a more of a “Miller B” type system (a low originating in the Ohio Valley, then redeveloping over the Carolina Coast) that brought very high snow totals to Garrett County, primarily due to the very high snowfall rates and slow speed of the storm. The blizzard’s reach was widespread and caused the United States Government to shut down for several days due to snow in the D.C. area. Southwestern Pennsylvania was also hit very hard by this storm. Garrett County reported nearly 40 inches of snow. For a more detailed summary of this storm see here.
- Feb 9th-11th Blizzard
The Blizzard of Feb 9th-11th began as a powerful Alberta Clipper then also experienced cyclogenisus and exploded as it reached the New Jersey Coast. At this point, it also formed an “eye” similar to a hurricane and was said to be of similar strength of a category 1 hurricane. Garrett County experienced very strong winds with this system as well as another 30 inches of snow. Because it came only a few days after the previous blizzard, these two storms became nicknamed in the Mid-Atlantic region as “snowmageddon” and “snowpocalypse” given the high impact they had on regions not normally used to such excessive snow. For a more detailed summary of this storm see here.
- Feb25th-27th Blizzard
The Blizzard of February 25th and 27th Involved a complex combination of multiple systems, including an upper air low from the northern plains states, and a surface low from the gulf coast states. As the surface low tracked northeast from the Carolina Coast, the upper air low transferred its energy to it, eventually enabling the new storm to undergo rapid intensification near Long Island. A strong blocking regime of high pressure over the Canadian Maritime provinces prevented the storm system from exiting to the east. This resulted in a cutoff low which took a highly unusual track, retrograding west into New York State before looping back out to sea. During the prolonged period of snow due to the cutoff low’s flow over Lake Erie, Garrett County experienced nearly constant moderate to heavy snowfall during the 3 day period. Garrett County ended with 44 inches of snow. For a more detailed summary of this storm see here. Following this unprecedented 3rd blizzard in one month, the National Guard was deployed to Garrett County to assist with snow removal. For most of the month the snow pack in Garrett County totaled over 2 feet, and over 4 feet several days. Garrett County schools were open a total of 7 days during February, 2010. The seasonal snowfall total for winter 2009-2010 ended up at 262 inches, shattering the previous record of 234 inches during the winter of 2002-2003.
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Cumberland Times Article from Feb 5, 2010:
Snow emergency plans in effect
From Staff Reports
February 05, 2010 08:40 pm
— CUMBERLAND — The snow emergency plan went into effect in Garrett County at 9:15 a.m., a short time after snow began falling there. Snow was falling at that hour in downtown Cumberland and at Keyser in nearby Mineral County.
The snow emergency plan was implemented in Allegany County at 1 p.m.
The late-morning reports of snow signaled the start of a monster storm that is expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow in Allegany and surrounding counties. By noon, roadways remained wet but clear in Allegany County despite steady snowfall. Minor accidents were reported, however, in Mineral County with two vehicles in ditches and one vehicle over an embankment. Roadways were said to be snow-covered at that hour in Garrett County, according to Maryland State Police at McHenry.
A winter storm warning posted by the National Weather Service is in effect until 10 p.m. Saturday. Winds gusting up to 35 mph are also anticipated to reduce visibility with blizzard-like conditions. Late Friday morning, the NWS revised its forecast to predict 20 to 30 inches of snow would fall throughout the region.
Anticipated several days in advance, the nor’easter storm coming from the Gulf of Mexico region is expected to pull more moisture from the Atlantic Ocean to create conditions that some forecasts described as “paralyzing” and “crippling.”
Cumberland Police Department readied its fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles to respond to calls throughout the two-day storm.
In West Virginia, state police urged that “citizens stay home and off the roadways during the snowstorm unless an emergency dictates otherwise.” Gov. Joe Manchin declared a statewide State of Emergency early Friday afternoon.
Gov. Martin O’Malley issued a Declaration of Emergency Friday that will give the state flexibility to activate the Maryland National Guard and provide assistance to local emergency managers.
“Maryland National Guard units are prepared to assist local emergency managers and first-responders around the state, and have already begun deployment throughout Maryland,” O’Malley said. “We urge residents to avoid driving except for the most urgent reasons. If drivers stay off the roads, it will help the dedicated state and local highway crews clear the roads in a safe and efficient manner.”
Col. Terrence Sheridan, superintendent of the Maryland State Police, has directed all four-wheel drive vehicles in the fleet to be deployed to road patrol troopers for the duration of the storm. Troopers from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Automotive Safety Enforcement Division and Special Operations Division have been reassigned from their normal duties and assigned to road patrol for the weekend to supplement the regular patrol force.
Maryland State Police will be working closely with State Highway Administration and Maryland Emergency Management Agency officials throughout the storm. Marylanders are urged not to travel during the storm unless it is absolutely necessary.
Numerous school systems throughout the region closed Friday and various community events were canceled as well. Some announcements of closed schools were made Thursday afternoon.