Blizzard 2017 Won't Quite Compare To 2016's Storm

by Seth Millstein
Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The northeast is bracing itself for Winter Storm Stella, which is scheduled to touch down at the beginning of this week. Blizzard warnings are in effect throughout the region, and multiple states will be blanketed with snow throughout Tuesday. This is serious business, especially in March. But will blizzard 2017 be worse than the 2016 storm that battered the east coast?

According to the Weather Channel, Stella will bring as much as three feet of snow to parts of the east coast, including New York. Winds could reach up to 60 miles an hour, causing nine-foot waves to strike along the shores of New Jersey, Cape Cod, and Long Island. No fewer than eight states — New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island — are expected to see blizzards, while winter storm warnings (less severe than blizzard warnings) are in effect in Washington D.C., Baltimore, and even Ohio.

Stella, in other words, is nothing to sneeze at (except, perhaps, in the literal sense). But will it be as bad as the 2016 blizzard?

Only time will tell, of course, but it looks like the answer is no. The 2016 snowstorm, which struck in the more reasonable month of January, was nothing short of brutal: It killed 48 people across 12 states, according to the Associated Press, causing fatalities everywhere from Tennessee to New York.

The snow was unrelenting, reportedly reaching three and a half feet in parts of West Virginia and topping two feet in many other places. Four separate cities — Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York City — had as much snow over the course of one weekend as they normally have in an entire season, according to CNN. It even snowed in Florida. Florida!

As a result of the snow, roads were closed all over the place. But before they were, some unfortunate motorists — including an entire basketball team — found themselves stuck on the Pennsylvania turnpike for more than 24 hours.

“This storm ranks up there with the great blizzards of the past 100 years in terms of amount of snowfall, size of impacted areas, and population affected," Louis W. Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service, said at the time. In totality, the 2016 blizzard spread across 434 thousand square miles and affected an estimated 102.8 million people — a little less than a third of the entire U.S. population.

It seems unlikely that Stella will be quite as huge, if only because it's not forecasted to affect as many states. But it's better to be safe than sorry, so please, take these storm warnings seriously.