Ranking The Top 5 Northeast Snowstorms

As a potentially crippling snowstorm has its eyes on the Mid-Atlantic, including the nation's capital, it's a good time to rank the worst northeast snowstorms.

The preeminent way to classify snowstorms in this part of the country was developed by renowned winter forecaster Paul Kocin and Louis Uccellini, who now serves as the director of the National Weather Service.

Kocin and Uccellini's ranking system, called The Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale or NESIS, has five levels: notable, significant, major, crippling and extreme.

The ranking takes into account area impacted, how much snow falls and how many people live in the path of the storm.

The analysis started in 1950 but included four prior notable storms.

  1. 12-14 Mar 1993 – Category 5 – Extreme
  2. 6-8 Jan 1996 – Category 5 – Extreme
  3. 15-18 Feb 2003 – Category 4 – Crippling
  4. 11-14 Mar 1888 – Category 4 – Crippling
  5. 11-14 Feb 1899 – Category 4 – Crippling

The Blizzards of 1996 and 1993 both delivered double-digit snowfall from Washington clear through to Boston, including Connecticut.

Given that this storm is likely to spare big cities from New York City to Hartford and Boston, the population and area components of the formula will limit this storm's rating. Washington appears to be the biggest city in the bull's-eye of snow.

NBC Connecticut's own First Alert Meteorologist Tyler Jankoski participated in a live interview with Paul Kocin Wednesday evening ahead of the impending storm. You can listen to the interview here.

Contact Us