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LVwxHistorian

Looking Back: The Megalopolitan Storm of 1983

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Since this was the storm that sparked my interest in Meteo when I was 7 years old and living in Allentown, I wanted to recollect with everyone about this amazing storm on its anniversary.      

For the Lehigh Valley It remains the most intense snowfall of record (courtesy of a gravity wave) that produced 5 inches in an hour with about 18 inches in 5 hours.  The total of 25.2" was a record till 1996. 

Then records also set at Harrisburg (25") and Phila (21.3"). 

We've had bigger since but never as intense!

  

  

  

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As a side note...I went to Lehigh in the late 70's and we had two large snow storms the winter of 77-78.  Back to back.

I grew up in North Wales Pa.  After Lehigh I lived in the neighboring town of Lansdale right next to North Penn High.

And this storm was the greatest storm of my life.   First time for thunder snow.  And there was a lot thunder.  And yea... a foot of snow in under three hours.

Got more snow in a storm.  30 inches one year in North Wales...90's.

But nothing compares to the 83 storm.

Interesting enough...if I remember the right way,  storm was behind schedule and local Mets were starting to down play it.

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I was a junior in high school growing up in Delco. I clearly remember the storm but don't recall many details like I do with the '93 and '96 storms. Maybe the memory is starting to fade after nearly 40 years.

Thanks for mentioning the thunder snow. Now that you said it, I recall it and I think it was the first time I ever experienced it too.

I remember Herb Clark (and Super Radar) calling for 20" or more, I couldn't believe it was possible to get that much snow.

I think we were out of school for an entire week.

Overall, that was a pretty lame winter in Delco. I do recall they were predicting a big snow storm on a Saturday (don't know the date), but woke to a driving rainstorm instead. We may have gotten a sloppy inch or so at the end.

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I was in my early 20's for that one.  Was out in it of course!  It was daytime start that went into the evening.   One and only time in my life I saw and heard thundersnow.

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I love talking about this snowstorm more than any other and is my favorite followed by 96 then 93.  I remember Elliott Abrams excitedly talking about it on KYW for a couple of days before it hit the area. 
   I had just turned 18 a week earlier and had been a senior in high school and this storm was going to be a big snow according to most forecasts for our Lancaster Co (and Philly area). The snow started falling just before sunrise that Friday morning and had been falling steadily and moderately for several hours. My father and I went out to take care clearing our driveway in the afternoon with our garden tractor that had a plow attached. I had plowed our entire driveway which would take probably about 45 minutes with powdery snow being involved. Not sure how many inches there were on the ground at that point but when I had finished, another 2” had fallen where I had started in those 45 or so minutes. I do remember hearing about thunder snow but I hadn’t heard any personally in this storm.
   Went to bed that evening with heavy snow falling and at around 3 or 4 am I had woke up and looked outside with the front porch light on. I was blown away with the most heaviest falling snow I had even seen and have never witnessed since. Giant pancake flakes mixed with every other size flakes imaginable. Rates must have been a couple of inches and hour easily. By that point in the morning, 2 feet had probably fallen.  Went back to bed and I believe the snow came to an end around 6 or 7 in the morning. 
  I remember putting a yardstick in the ground but not remembering what the exact measurement had been but I’m 100% sure it was at least 30” when all was said and done.  I had a 3 year old sister at the time and the next day I thought it would be cool to drop her feet first into this deep snow. I did just that and she went all the way up to her chin in snow. Needless to say she did not appreciate this snow dunk and started crying her eyes out.

One more memory was driving past the PA turnpike and 222 exits the day after the storm and seeing tractor trailer trucks completely littered all over the highway exits. Tractor trailers had bailed off the highways when plows could not keep up. Snowplows had to weave there way around these trucks like a maze and looked it looked almost apocalyptic as they were plowed into place where they had abandoned them. Also remember getting a rainstorm several days later and some roofs had collapsed under heavy snow and then rain.

 It would be great but I never have and never expect to see snow falling at those intense rates ever again. Simply put it was a weenie storm for the ages as far as snowfall rates go.

 

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But to answer: I have a vague recollection that I was outside playing basketball in shorts a few days before this storm but I may be thinking of a different one...

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11 minutes ago, ChescoWx said:

The biggest issue with this thread and why we MUST change the title is this was way too early and was not in fact Presidents Day in 1983 - that was 10 days later....it was a great storm. The biggest snowstorm in my life up to that point but it was not President's Day...just trying to be accurate!!

Wasn't PD I IN 1978, now that I remember.

 

Edit: 1979

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35 minutes ago, ChescoWx said:

The biggest issue with this thread and why we MUST change the title is this was way too early and was not in fact Presidents Day in 1983 - that was 10 days later....it was a great storm. The biggest snowstorm in my life up to that point but it was not President's Day...just trying to be accurate!!

Oops you are correct - this is usually known as the Megalopolitan Storm, Kocin/Uccelini

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3 hours ago, LVwxHistorian said:

Oops you are correct - this is usually known as the Megalopolitan Storm, Kocin/Uccelini

I usually just refer to it as "The Blizzard of 83'....

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This storm was amazing in NE Philadelphia where I lived Tabor Road and Adams Avenue off of Roosevelt Blvd picked up 22.7" with 8 foot drifts in the driveways between our row homes.

Yes, I was out in it loving it when I was 9 years old. I remember being out when the lightning flashed and heard the low rumble of thunder with 2-4" snowfall rates an hour complete with grauple.  There were multiple flashes of lightning and thunder during that storm very dynamic.  My trusted weather forecasters this night was Jim O'Brien and Herb Clark.

1983 was a sad year as this storm would be the last big one that Jim would cover!!  God Bless Jim O'Brien and his family he no doubt fueled my love and passion for the weather!

Jim Obrien's Crusin forecast - YouTube

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1 hour ago, Kevin Reilly said:

This storm was amazing in NE Philadelphia where I lived Tabor Road and Adams Avenue off of Roosevelt Blvd picked up 22.7" with 8 foot drifts in the driveways between our row homes.

Yes, I was out in it loving it when I was 9 years old. I remember being out when the lightning flashed and heard the low rumble of thunder with 2-4" snowfall rates an hour complete with grauple.  There were multiple flashes of lightning and thunder during that storm very dynamic.  My trusted weather forecasters this night was Jim O'Brien and Herb Clark.

1983 was a sad year as this storm would be the last big one that Jim would cover!!  God Bless Jim O'Brien and his family he no doubt fueled my love and passion for the weather!

Jim Obrien's Crusin forecast - YouTube

I made all his happy/angry clouds, cold etc. The fronts were hard to make and cut out, then I played weather lol

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1 minute ago, RedSky said:

I made all his happy/angry clouds, cold etc. The fronts were hard to make and cut out, then I played weather lol

Did you have a pair of glasses with windshield wipers?

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1 hour ago, Kevin Reilly said:

This storm was amazing in NE Philadelphia where I lived Tabor Road and Adams Avenue off of Roosevelt Blvd picked up 22.7" with 8 foot drifts in the driveways between our row homes.

Yes, I was out in it loving it when I was 9 years old. I remember being out when the lightning flashed and heard the low rumble of thunder with 2-4" snowfall rates an hour complete with grauple.  There were multiple flashes of lightning and thunder during that storm very dynamic.  My trusted weather forecasters this night was Jim O'Brien and Herb Clark.

1983 was a sad year as this storm would be the last big one that Jim would cover!!  God Bless Jim O'Brien and his family he no doubt fueled my love and passion for the weather!

Jim Obrien's Crusin forecast - YouTube

Sounds like a dream storm to me. We’ve had some incredible rates in Philly in a few storms over the last 20 years, but none like that which lasted long enough for 20+...Jan 2011 part 2, March 2018 thunder snow event. Amazing but short lasting. I was out of town for feb 2006s morning ccb band. Few others I’m sure. Wish there was video of the event somewhere. I was born 86 so my memory of snowstorms start around 93 or so.

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4 minutes ago, KamuSnow said:

Did you have a pair of glasses with windshield wipers?

I wish. But an antenna dissected from a radio made a good map pointer.

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29 minutes ago, RedSky said:

I made all his happy/angry clouds, cold etc. The fronts were hard to make and cut out, then I played weather lol

I was always a big fan of the angry clouds. It meant there will be something going on. And when you saw multiple angry clouds on his super generic map...oh yeah. But the best was an angry cloud off the carolina coast and a happy ass cloud in the prime position to the north...the party is on! 

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I think about this storm a lot. No storms that I recall from my childhood until now compared to this one. The winds, the cold, the rate that the snow was falling and the drifts were epic. I would love to experience a storm like that again!

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7 hours ago, RedSky said:

I wish. But an antenna dissected from a radio made a good map pointer.

We had a cat that would sit in front on the TV and swat at Jim O’Brien’s pointer as he did the weather.

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10 hours ago, Kevin Reilly said:

This storm was amazing in NE Philadelphia where I lived Tabor Road and Adams Avenue off of Roosevelt Blvd picked up 22.7" with 8 foot drifts in the driveways between our row homes.

Yes, I was out in it loving it when I was 9 years old. I remember being out when the lightning flashed and heard the low rumble of thunder with 2-4" snowfall rates an hour complete with grauple.  There were multiple flashes of lightning and thunder during that storm very dynamic.  My trusted weather forecasters this night was Jim O'Brien and Herb Clark.

1983 was a sad year as this storm would be the last big one that Jim would cover!!  God Bless Jim O'Brien and his family he no doubt fueled my love and passion for the weather!

Jim Obrien's Crusin forecast - YouTube

I too grew up and was living in the Great NE Philly on Waldemire Drive near Red Lion Road. I just remember they kept upping snow amounts - my main source back in the day was Eliott Abrams and Accu-Weather on KYW radio. Plus like you Jim O'Brien was the guy that got me into the weather....."it's gonna rain like a hose on a flat rock" That was back in the day before weather was a major part of TV news....and the on air weather folks were almost never professional METS just personalities like Jimbo!   Back then sports used to be a bigger part of news than weather. I really think ever since the Blizzard of 1996 when all of the stations covered it all day and got huge ratings they figured out how good weather can be for increased eyeballs!

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1 hour ago, ChescoWx said:

I too grew up and was living in the Great NE Philly on Waldemire Drive near Red Lion Road. I just remember they kept upping snow amounts - my main source back in the day was Eliott Abrams and Accu-Weather on KYW radio. Plus like you Jim O'Brien was the guy that got me into the weather....."it's gonna rain like a hose on a flat rock" That was back in the day before weather was a major part of TV news....and the on air weather folks were almost never professional METS just personalities like Jimbo!   Back then sports used to be a bigger part of news than weather. I really think ever since the Blizzard of 1996 when all of the stations covered it all day and got huge ratings they figured out how good weather can be for increased eyeballs!

Yes of course Elliott Abrams!! When he retired my listening to KYW fell 80%!

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Back in the 70's and 80's Tv weatherman were not Mets.  I think it was better.  These weather men talked to Mets and tried to understand the forecast and Than explained it to us.  They were us.  Jim O'Brien, Herb Clark.

So often today...it sounds like Tv weathermen are just reading 6 hour old models.  

Elliot Abrams is my all time favorite real met.

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6 hours ago, Kevin Reilly said:

Yes of course Elliott Abrams!! When he retired my listening to KYW fell 80%!

25 after the hour he'd give a nice explanation of what was going on with all the nuances. Great for winter weather events, especially pre-internet. 

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3 hours ago, blue sky said:

Back in the 70's and 80's Tv weatherman were not Mets.  I think it was better.  These weather men talked to Mets and tried to understand the forecast and Than explained it to us.  They were us.  Jim O'Brien, Herb Clark.

So often today...it sounds like Tv weathermen are just reading 6 hour old models.  

Elliot Abrams is my all time favorite real met.

"Mean motor-scooter and a bad go better".

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This was the first coastal I ever experienced living at the shore, monmouth college back then. I will never forget hiking to the beach, wearing old goggles to protect the eyes and the first time I ever saw the ocean rise like that, with insane wave action.

I also will never forget Lloyd Lindsay Young, met for channel 9 out of NYC. He was all over this storm as well the others to follow. He became our go to weatherman noon each day.


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