A winter storm that barreled across the United States from Cedar Grove, Calif., where it dropped 49 inches of snow, to Ogunquit, Maine, which saw more than a foot, was finally departing on Tuesday, but not before giving New England one last whack.
Having come ashore from the Pacific a week ago as a “bomb cyclone,” the storm dropped at least four inches of snow in 30 states. Its mix of cold, wind, snow, sleet and rain shuttered schools, blocked hundreds of miles of highways, scuttered scores of flights and was linked to multiple deaths over the long holiday weekend in Missouri, Arizona and South Dakota.
Bob Oravec, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, described the storm as “very long-lasting” and said it was rare for a storm to have that kind of staying power.
So how did the storm maintain its strength over such a long time and distance? As with other storms, the ebbs and flows of heavy to light snowfall associated with this one were predominantly dictated by topography, Mr. Oravec said.
High elevations, like in the Rockies, force air to rise, which causes more precipitation. Bodies of water, such as lakes, also enhance snowfall. For instance, when a northeastern wind blows through Duluth, Minn., which is on Lake Superior, it grabs moisture from the water, producing more snow. In this case, the city was buried under 23.5 inches of snow.
“They’ll weaken. They’ll strengthen,” Mr. Oravec said of the storms. “Storms will go through cycles. That’s why you’ll see, at times, variations in the amount of snow.”
The West Coast’s ‘bomb cyclone’
The storm intensified over the Pacific, then buffeted coastal regions of Oregon and Northern California on Nov. 26, transforming into a “bomb cyclone” — a storm in which pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours — with winds reaching up to 106 m.p.h.
The Cascades and northern Sierras were blanketed with heavy snow, major highways were closed and residents across a wide area lost power.
Once the storm hit, some parts of Northern California saw more than four feet of snow, with Cedar Grove, at 4,610 feet of elevation in Kings Canyon National Park, reporting 49 inches, the highest total of anywhere in the country.
Here are the highest totals for each West Coast and Southwestern state that got at least four inches of snow:
California: 49 inches at Cedar Grove, 48 inches at Big Bear Lake and 37 inches at Lake Wishon.
Oregon: 15 inches at Rock Creek.
Washington: 23 inches at Wenatchee.
Arizona: 22 inches at Parks.
New Mexico: 16 inches at Black Lake.
Thanksgiving travel troubles in the Rockies
Although a late November snowstorm is no surprise in the Rockies, this one in particular took its toll right before the holiday.
As nearly a foot of snow fell on the Denver area by the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, hundreds of flights were canceled, leaving thousands of travelers stranded at the airport overnight. Stretches of major highways across the region were closed off because of poor driving conditions, with drivers facing poor-to-nonexistent visibility.
Here are the highest snowfalls for the region:
Nevada: 18 inches at Mount Rose.
Utah: 48 inches at Snowbasin, 47 inches at Alta and 42 inches at Powder Mountain.
Montana: 14 inches at Choteau, Cut Bank and Red Lodge.
Wyoming: 30 inches at Muddy Gap.
Idaho: 20 inches at Featherville.
Colorado: 15 inches at Coal Bank Pass and Wolf Creek Pass.
Parts of the Midwest saw a ‘White Thanksgiving’
The storm then shifted slowly eastward through the Plains and Midwest, hitting those regions with strong gusts and heavy snowfall from Wednesday to Saturday.
Storm-related accidents were reported across the Midwest, with officials reporting the death of four people in Missouri on Saturday. Investigators in South Dakota were looking into whether the blizzard conditions had resulted in the crash of a private plane that was leaving for Idaho. Of the 12 passengers, all of whom were family members, nine were killed.
Here are the region’s highest snowfalls:
Nebraska: 14 inches at Chadron.
South Dakota: 30 inches at Lead.
North Dakota: 15 inches at Ashley.
Minnesota: 25.1 inches at Carlton and 23.5 inches at Duluth.
Iowa: 4.5 inches at Sibley.
Michigan: 28 inches at Gould City.
Wisconsin: 28.4 inches at Ashland.
The South was not spared
As snow began to smother regions of the South, school closings were announced Monday in parts of West Virginia and Tennessee.
The high levels of snowfall were predominantly concentrated in mountainous regions of the southern states, reaching elevations between 2,000 and 6,000 feet. Strong winds complicated matters for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, with snow being blown back onto mountain roads as soon as plows cleared them.
Here are the highest snowfalls:
North Carolina: 4 inches at Meat Camp.
Tennessee: 4.5 inches at Mount Le Conte.
Virginia: 4 inches at Jewell Ridge.
West Virginia: 7 inches at Parcoal.
The Northeast took the final blow
As the storm made its way to the East Coast, the Mid-Atlantic states and New England received their first major snowfalls of the season.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York declared a state of emergency for a handful of counties in upstate New York, including Albany and Saratoga, saying he would deploy 300 members of the National Guard to help with snow removal.
In New Jersey, more than 36,000 homes and businesses were left without electricity as of Tuesday afternoon.
As the storm began to move out of New England on Tuesday, many residents were still dealing with its effects: messy commutes, snow days for schools (even in Boston, which received only about four inches) and canceled flights. And winter storm warnings and weather advisories were still in effect across much of Maine.
Here are the highest snowfalls:
Pennsylvania: 14 inches at Susquehanna.
New Jersey: 14.3 inches at Highland Lakes and 9.2 inches at West Milford.
New York: 28 inches at Fultonville.
Connecticut: 18 inches at North Granby.
Rhode Island: 6.7 inches at Cumberland.
Massachusetts: 22.5 inches at Lenox and Plainfield.
Maine: 12.4 inches at Ogunquit
Vermont: 26 inches at Woodford.
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