Document Type



The 241 largest snowstorms over the eastern two-thirds of the United States during 1950–2000 exhibited considerable temporal variability ranging from 1 storm in three winters to 10 storms in 1993/94. The peak decadal frequency was 55 storms (1950s), and the minimum was 45 storms (1970s and 1980s). The east– north-central region experienced the greatest number of large snowstorms (148) followed by the west– north-central (136) and central (133) regions. Regional trends were different. Assessment of surface cyclone tracks associated with the large snowstorms identified three primary tracks: one was located from the leeward side of the south-central Rocky Mountains east-northeast toward the Great Lakes; a second was from the lower Mississippi River basin northeastward toward the Great Lakes; and a third was along the coastal mid-Atlantic region northeast toward Maine. Temporal differences in the frequency of certain surface cyclone tracks were related to the decadal trends in regional large snowstorm occurrence. The minimum surface pressure associated with these storms ranged from 959 to 1013 hPa with more than 67% of all storms having a minimum surface pressure between 980 and 999 hPa. The average orthogonal distance from the storm track to the heavy snow region was 201 km. The average rate of cyclone movement ranged from less than 483 to more than 1930 km day 1, with more than 57% of storms moving between 805 and 1287 km day 1.



Publication Date


Original Citation

Changnon, D., C. Merinsky, and M. Lawson, 2008: Climatology of surface cyclones tracks associated with large central and eastern U.S. snowstorms, 1950-2000. Monthly Weather Review, 136, 3193-3202.


Department of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences

Legacy Department

Department of Geography






American Meteorological Society



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