Weather & Natural Disasters

Record-breaking snowfall blankets the Northeast U.S.

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Key Points
  • A large swath of the Northeast was blanketed in snow by the first major storm of the season, which smashed a decades-old snowfall record in Pennsylvania and Boston.
  • Much of Pennsylvania's western and central regions saw accumulations in the double digits.
  • Boston reported a record 9.1 inches falling since midnight on Wednesday, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norton, Massachusetts, said.
A snowman is seen on a wall in Times Square in New York City, December 16, 2020 as Storm Gail hits the East coast.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

A large swath of the Northeast was blanketed in snow by the first major storm of the season, which smashed a decades-old snowfall record in Pennsylvania.

"Williamsport Regional Airport made history," the National Weather Service in State College said, reporting 24.7 inches of snow. Forecasters said that was the most snow from a single storm on record, breaking the previous record of 24.1 inches set there in January 1964.

Much of Pennsylvania's western and central regions saw accumulations in the double digits.

Boston reported a record 9.1 inches falling since midnight on Wednesday, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Norton, Massachusetts, said.

"That is the new record right now, and it will probably be more before it's done," Bryce Williams said. The previous record for snowfall on Dec. 17 was recorded in 2013 when 6.4 inches fell in Boston.

A man clears snow as snow falls near Bryant park coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 16, 2020.
Jennah Moon | Reuters

High elevations in the Berkshires saw the most snow, more than 1 foot, in Massachusetts. Moderate to heavy snowfall is forecast through Thursday afternoon, with another 3 to 4 inches accumulating before slowly tapering off.

Williams also warned of "a flash freeze situation" that could cause dangerous road conditions.

In New Hampshire, there were at least 50 crashes and disabled vehicles due to poor road conditions as of Thursday morning. Officials did not say if there were any major injuries or deaths.

In eastern New York, where more than 2 feet of snow was measured by 7 a.m. Thursday in suburban towns near Albany, numerous disabled cars were reported along Interstate 87. State police said a snowmobiler was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on I-787 in downtown Albany early Monday

The storm came at a critical time of the coronavirus pandemic, though officials said they didn't expect the winter blast to disrupt vaccine distribution. Covid-19 vaccines started being given to frontline health care workers earlier this week.