Major Nor'easter
Monday February 5, 2001

Developing in classic Nor'easter fashion from a strong upper air disturbance moving through the Midwest linking with a weak coastal low off the southeast coast, a storm intensified and dumped heavy snow during the afternoon and evening over southeastern New York and much of interior New England.  The heavy snow line extended just east of the immediate Capital Region through the eastern Catskills, mid Hudson valley, much of central and eastern Rensselaer county as well as southern Bennington county, VT, Berkshire county, MA, and Litchfield county, CT, where up to 25" of snow fell.

Ingredients for this snow storm began coming together on Sunday, February 4, when a clipper system, linked to a strong upper air low, tracked slowly through the Midwest.  Simultaneously, a ribbon of subtropical moisture lay in wait along the Atlantic seaboard extending from the Gulf of Mexico to just off the North Carolina coast.  Imbedded within this moisture stream was a weak low pressure system.   As the Midwest low approached the coast during the night and into the morning of the 5th, a typical energy transfer occurred from the Midwest low to the weak coastal system, infusing it and causing it to rapidly deepen.  The system tracked up along the coast to a position just south of Cape Cod, MA by 8pm on the 5th. Interestingly, a reservoir of very cold air was not available for this storm to work with.  Typically, large snow making Nor'easters interact with strong high pressure cells over southern Canada that supply cold air to the region.  In this case, the high was located well off the coast and the air only marginally cold enough for snow.  The strong vertical motions the storm created in the atmosphere, however, did cause some cooling aloft which was sufficient to support all snow in upstate New York and central New England.  Surface temperatures, however, hovered around 30 degrees through the duration of the storm causing the snow to be of a very heavy wet consistency.

Light snow began over most of the region by 9:00am and became steadier and heavier during the mid afternoon.  A narrow band of extremely heavy snow, caused by a warm moist conveyor belt of air wrapping around the north and west side of the strengthening low, produced snowfall rates up to an extraordinary 5" per hour in the eastern Catskills, mid Hudson valley, especially throughout Columbia county, then through southeast Rensselaer, southern Bennington, Berkshire, and Litchfield counties for a few hours during the afternoon and evening.  A WeatherNet 6 weather watcher report from Dover Plains in Dutchess county indicated 10.5" of snow in an hour and a half from 5pm to 6:30pm!  A storm track approximately 50 miles further west would have put that belt of extremely heavy snow squarely into the Capital Region.  Instead, snowfall in the Capital Region and points north and west was considerably lighter with between 5" and 9" accumulating on average.  Lesser amounts of 2"-5" occurred in the Mohawk valley, Adirondacks, and Lake George area, being even further removed from the low center.

The storm moved along at a steady, moderately fast pace, which allowed much of the accumulating snow to move out of the region just prior to midnight on the 5th.  Leftover, light snow and snow showers persisted east of the Hudson river in New York and across western New England through the pre-dawn hours on the 6th, with little additional snow accumulation.  Wind was not much of a factor in the region with this Nor'easter, but did increase to about 20 mph as the storm departed late at night causing a minimum of blowing and drifting snow. 

Many Nor'easters are followed by blasts of arctic air.   However, in this case, with a lack of any real cold air in the eastern half of the nation or across southern Canada, this storm was followed by relatively moderate conditions, with daytime temperatures in the upper 30's on the 6th.

The following table lists snow accumulations reported by the Channel 6 WeatherNet 6 weather watcher network as well as some reports from the National Weather Service Cooperative network of weather observers.

Town/State County Snow Amount Town/State County Snow Amount
Albany (SUNY) Albany 8.1" Westerlo Albany 7.5"
Selkirk Albany 6.5" Colonie Albany 6.25"
Green Island Albany 8.25" Guilderland Albany 7.0"
Medusa Albany 5.5" Cohoes Albany 7.0"
Adams, MA Berkshire 20.0" Dalton, MA Berkshire 17.0"
Mill River, MA Berkshire 16.5" Williamstown, MA Berkshire 15.8"
Hudson Columbia 12.25" Claverack Columbia 22.0"
Brainard Columbia 15.5" Copake Columbia 12.0"
East Chatham Columbia 15.0" Chatham Columbia 15.0"
LaGrange Dutchess 13.0" Dover Plains Dutchess 17.5"
Poughkeepsie Dutchess 12.6" Red Hook Dutchess 13.0"
Broadalbin Village Fulton 5.75" Sacandaga Park Fulton 4.5"
Round Top Greene 7.5" Ashland Greene 6.0"
Cairo Greene 8.5" Lexington Greene 7.75"
Catskill Greene 22.0" Windham Greene 7.0"
Indian Lake Hamilton 3.8" Piseco Hamilton 6.0"
Florida, NY Montgomery 8.0" East Stone Arabia Montgomery 5.0"
Amsterdam Montgomery 7.0" Fort Plain Montgomery 4.0"
Worcester Delaware 4.25" North Hoosick Rensselaer 9.0"
Stephentown Rensselaer 22.9" Brunswick Rensselaer 9.5"
Troy Rensselaer 7.0" East Poestenkill Rensselaer 8.0"
Clifton Park Saratoga 7.5" Providence Saratoga 8.25"
Corinth Saratoga 5.25" Charlton Saratoga 8.0"
Ballston Spa Saratoga 6.5" Galway Saratoga 6.0"
Malta Saratoga 6.0" Mechanicville Saratoga 7.5"
Round Lake Saratoga 6.5" Burnt Hills Saratoga 6.0"
Glenville Schenectady 6.25" Delanson Schenectady 6.5"
Niskayuna Schenectady 6.7" Schenectady Schenectady 6.8"
Cobleskill Schoharie 4.5" Summit Schoharie 5.5"
Jefferson Schoharie 4.5" Woodstock Ulster 15.5"
Kerhonkson Ulster 21.5" Kingston Ulster 17.0"
West Shokan Ulster 13.5" Marbletown Ulster 17.0"
West Hurley Ulster 16.0" Lake George Warren 3.75"
Queensbury Warren 5.0" Glens Falls Warren 4.5"
Bolton Landing Warren 5.9" Warrensburg Warren 5.4"
Salem Washington 4.0" North Granville Washington 5.5"
Cossayuna Washington 7.5" Fort Edward Washington 4.0"
Woodford Mt, VT Bennington 21.0" Shrewsbury, VT Rutland 14.0"