In the end, the only D.C. and Baltimore residents that wound up digging out of this storm were the area's weather forecasters, who now have to answer for the 0.2 inches of slush that fell, despite a forecast of 5 to 10 inches of snow. Yet the storm has overperformed in two key respects — it has deposited a crushing slab of snow to the higher elevations of Virginia and Maryland, where close to 2 feet fell, and it is posing a more formidable coastal flood threat than projected just 24 hours ago. That threat of flooding exists from Delaware northward into Massachusetts, as the coast stands to be battered by high winds, pounding surf, and a storm surge that could average between 2 to 4 feet in many spots, but may exceed that in some locations.
View the story "March Storm Spreads Slush, Coastal Flooding" on Storify] March Storm Spreads Slush, Coastal Flooding A powerful coastal storm dubbed "snowquester" brought a slushy mess to Washington, D.C., but plastered inland areas with more than a foot of snow. It is also causing coastal flooding in Delaware, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.
· Wed, Mar 06 2013 15:52:44
The storm some have called "Snowquester" and others "Saturn" won't leave a snowy legacy in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore after all, but could long be remembered for
doing lasting damage
to the Delaware, New Jersey, and southern New England coastlines. The storm is moving slowly, which means that in Massachusetts, as many as six high tide cycles could yield severe beach erosion and coastal flooding, due to a prolonged stretch of gale-force onshore winds and high seas on the order of 25 to 30 feet.
The damage from a Feb. 9 blizzard, combined with the extended timeframe of this event is heightening coastal flooding and beach erosion concerns. In Cape May, N.J., forecast storm tide levels are projected to be slightly higher than they were during Hurricane Sandy, which set all-time records in much of the state.
This computer model forecast shows a peak storm tide of about 9 feet above
Mean Lower Low Water
, which would be a record for that location and 1.2 inches higher than during Sandy, according to the National Weather Service.
Extra-Tropical Storm Surge: stn
Off the coast, the storm caused waves to build rapidly, as data from a buoy off the Delaware coast shows.
NDBC - 5-day plot - Significant Wave Height at 44009
Further north, in Nantucket, multiple high tide cycles are expected to cause coastal flooding, with the black line on this forecast plot exceeding the highest astronomical tide mark on five occasions.
Extra-Tropical Storm Surge: stn
The high seas and storm surge are encountering a coast that was dramatically reshaped by Hurricane Sandy in late October, and in many areas, like Atlantic City, the damaged coast is more vulnerable to additional flooding.
@weatherchannel Atlantic City http://pic.twitter.com/c8Pbqp9eeMErik Conover
Here was the scene earlier on Wednesday in Ocean City, N.J. Coastal flood warnings were extended all along the New Jersey coast through Friday.
RT @tedgreenberg: Flooding at 7th & Pleasure in Ocean City. @NBCPhiladelphia @JSHurricaneNews @GarySzatkowski http://pic.twitter.com/zQpPhXufHRTWC Breaking
Because of sea level rise due to warming ocean temperatures, melting polar ice caps, and sinking land masses, along with other factors, coastal storms such as this one are already more damaging than they used to be just a few decades ago, and that trend is expected to continue, according to recent scientific assessments.
Higher sea levels provide a higher launching pad for storm surges from hurricanes and nor’easters, making it possible for relatively weak storms to cause major damage. In Boston, the top five highest storm tides — which is the combination of the tide level and storm surge — all occurred during nor’easters.
High winds, gusting close to hurricane force in some spots, were also causing trouble, knocking out power to some New Jersey residents, with more outages expected as the storm shifts northward with time.
March snowstorm: N.J. power outage updatesA massive storm system is bearing down on New Jersey today, and the state is expected to be pelted with rain and snow through Thursday mo...
NASA captured a stunning satellite photograph of the storm, showing a classic "comma"-like shape to it, which is a sign of a strong extra-tropical (i.e. non-tropical) storm.
NASA - Winter Storm Hits the Mid-AtlanticAn image from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite on March 6, 2013, shows a winter storm hitting the U.S. mid-Atlantic region. The Geostationary Ope...
The storm surprised just about every meteorologist in the Mid-Atlantic region by failing to bring accumulating snow to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, where at least 5 to 10 inches were supposed to fall, if not more, depending on what media outlet you turned to. Instead, the accumulating snow was confined to areas just to the west and northwest of the cities where the air temperatures were a couple of degrees colder.
The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog, which originated the "Snowquester" name, thanked its readers and issued a mea culpa as the precipitation wound down as light rain.
Thank you for following us during this storm. Not our finest moment, but we appreciate your engagement and feedback.Capital Weather Gang
The difference just *4 miles* made in this storm. I think it speaks volumes about the difficulty of forecasting these storms and the rain/snow line.Adam Caskey
The Weather Channel's storm tracker Jim Cantore was left to report from a decidedly wet, rather than white, nation's capital, eventually referring to the storm as a complete forecast "bust."
A photo from @islivingstonislivingston
Congressman Jason Chaffetz tweeted this picture of D.C.'s wet streets while poking fun at government officials who decided to close the government due to the snowy forecast.
Check out the deep snow that closed the schools and the federal government here in Washington DC #snowquester http://pic.twitter.com/HQHlFTv4JiJason Chaffetz
Heavy snow did fall in some places, just not in the cities. This was a scene from I-81 in Virginia.
RT @weatherchannel: RT @MartinMMC: Lots of accidents on I-81 #vawx #snowquester #Saturn http://pic.twitter.com/OH8icKJhQcLori Ditchfield
Perhaps meteorologists will issue forecasts in the future that more fully encompass the range of possible outcomes?
The most accurate snowfall map for the east coast storm you will see all day. #snowquester http://twitpic.com/c8xgjfBrad Panovich
Check out @MVforTeachers pic of Mount Vernon bearing the #snowquester http://pic.twitter.com/WuXf2j5DZrConSource
RT @cratergirl: Vicious storm paralyzes DC. @capitalweather #snowquester http://pic.twitter.com/IMBnr6C7boasrivkin
Heavy snow did fall in higher elevation areas of Virginia, such as Harrisonburg.
MT @jareds_mpls: Taken about 2 hours ago near Harrisonburg, VA #Saturn http://pic.twitter.com/9Ro4rmlZlYTWC Breaking