From January 22 through 24, 2016, a major blizzard produced up to 3 ft (91 cm) of snow in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast United States.
Evolving from a shortwave trough, the system consolidated into a defined low-pressure area on January 21 over Texas. Regarding it as a “potentially historic blizzard”, meteorologists indicated the storm could produce more than 2 ft (61 cm) of snow across a wide swath of the Mid-Atlantic region and could “paralyze the eastern third of the nation”. Winter weather expert Paul Kocin described the blizzard as “kind of a top-10 snowstorm”.
On January 20–22, the governors of eleven states and the mayor of Washington, D.C. declared a state of emergency in anticipation of significant snowfall and blizzard conditions. Approximately 103 million people were affected by the storm, with 33 million people under blizzard warnings. More than 13,000 flights were cancelled in relation to the storm, with effects rippling internationally.
Thousands of National Guardsmen were placed on standby and states deployed millions of gallons of brine and thousands of tons of road salt to lessen the storm’s effect on roadways. A travel ban was instituted for New York City and Newark, New Jersey for January 23–24. The storm was given various unofficial names, including Winter Storm Jonas and Snowzilla.
Seven states observed snowfall in excess of 30 in (76 cm), with accumulations peaking at 66 in (170 cm) on Mount Mitchell, North Carolina. Ice- and snow-covered roads led to hundreds of accidents across the affected region, several of which resulted in deaths and injuries. At least 55 people were killed in storm-related incidents: 12 in Virginia, 9 in Pennsylvania, 6 in New Jersey, 6 in New York, 6 in North Carolina, 4 in South Carolina, 3 in Maryland, 3 in Washington, D.C., 1 in Arkansas, 1 in Delaware, 1 in Georgia, 1 in Kentucky, 1 in Massachusetts, and 1 in Ohio.
Total economic losses are estimated between $500 million and $3 billion. The storm ranked as a Category 5 “extreme” event for the Northeast on the Regional Snowfall Index, and a Category 4 for the Southeast. It is the most recent winter storm to rank as a Category 5, and the first to do so since the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard.