Northeastern United States

There’s An Enhanced Risk For Severe Thunderstorms In The Northeast And Mid-Atlantic On Monday

Medieval Cold Snap That Caused Famine And Death Reveals Danger Of Climate Change

The Storm Prediction Center's severe weather forecast for May 1, 2017. | Image Credit: Dennis Mersereau

Dennis Mersereau

The Storm Prediction Center’s severe weather forecast for May 1, 2017. Click here for a larger version of this map.

A significant portion of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic is under the threat for severe weather on Monday as a powerful storm system passes by the region. The same system that wreaked havoc in the center of the country this past weekend will generate intense squall lines that could produce widespread damaging wind gusts, some instances of large hail, and possibly even a couple of tornadoes.

The early-morning forecast issued for Monday by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) painted a large swath of the East Coast under the threat for severe weather during the afternoon and evening hours, stretching from the U.S./Canada border down the eastern seaboard through South Carolina. An enhanced risk—the area shaded in orange on the map above—is a three out of five on the SPC’s categorical scale that conveys the expected coverage and intensity of severe thunderstorms.

A low-level water vapor image from the GOES-16 weather satellite. Data from GOES-16 is still considered preliminary and non-operational.

College of DuPage/NOAA

A low-level water vapor image from the…

How Were Roads Cleared Before Snowplows?

Though we’re nearing the beginning of spring, this week has left much of the northeastern United States dealing with the aftermath of a serious bout of snowfall. We take for granted that our roads will be plowed in a timely manner, but it took a long time for us to get to that place.

Let’s throw it back to the 1700s, when towns in the northeastern United States were just beginning to develop. As they grew, so too did the networks that connected them—which, of course, then mandated a postal service. As CityLab noted, during the Great Snow of 1717, the fastest way for mail carriers to travel the snowy roads between Boston and New York was to trade in their horses for a pair of snow shoes and make the trek on foot. Oof.

But year after year of heavy snowfall taught settlers to prepare for the weather. This meant stockpiling goods, founding organizations to aid those who needed coal and firewood, and inventing ski-like runners to attach to carts, which allowed for a sleigh-like method of transport. However, while these devices helped people to travel in inclement weather, it didn’t solve the issue of actually clearing the roads of snow.

This takes us to the 1840s, when the first patents for snowplows were issued (though there’s no record of one being used until around 1862). According to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, “The plow was attached to a cart pulled by a team of horses through the snow-clogged streets.” Though implemented in Wisconsin, the plows quickly grew to be popular…