Feb 9, 2012

Deconstructing a Mystery: What Caused Snowmageddon?

Washington, DC
USA
by
NASA
Nicknamed “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon,” an exceptionally severe winter storm dropped several feet of snow around the Washington, D.C., area in early February 2010. Image: NASA
Nicknamed “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon,” an exceptionally severe winter storm dropped several feet of snow around the Washington, D.C., area in early February 2010. Image: NASA

Two years later, scientists are still searching to identify the unique set of conditions that enabled storms of this magnitude to occur. To determine a direct cause to infrequent but major winter storms, Siegfried Schubert and colleagues Yehui Chang and Max Suarez -- all of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. -- became detectives...El Niño-induced sea surface temperatures and an extended negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation caused the changes in 2009-10 winter storminess.