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Long Island winter storm had familiar feel

Nancy Rowen digs out in Roslyn Heights. She

Nancy Rowen digs out in Roslyn Heights. She gets a little help from her dog Nellie. (Jan. 22, 2014) Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

If 11.2 inches of snow at Long Island MacArthur Airport rings a bell, that's because the airport saw the same amount in the Jan. 2-3 storm, the year's first.

Both were classic, winter nor'easters, resulting from the jet stream's dipping south, allowing cold air from the polar vortex to dip with it as well as creating "storms that like to ride along the jet," said Tim Morrin, National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton.

One major difference between the two storms was the track that led them to Long Island. The initial low pressure area that led to Tuesday's storm traveled out of the upper Ohio Valley, he said, rapidly intensifying when it reached the mid-Atlantic coast.

Storms taking that track "would not carry as much moisture as ones coming out of the deeper south," which would have access to moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the Atlantic, he said.

The month's earlier storm took that southern route, but frigid temperatures meant it had only slightly more moisture, meaning just slightly wetter snow than Tuesday's, said Joey Picca, also a meteorologist in Upton.

The snow-to-liquid ratios for Tuesday's storm averaged 18 to 1 to 25 to 1, "quite high for this region," the weather service said in a tweet.

The ratios for the storm just two days into the new year ranged from 15 to 1 to 20 to 1, Picca said, with the snow "still dry and cold -- it wasn't a wet snow."

Another difference, certainly, was the time of day for heaviest snowfall, Picca said, with Tuesday's storm intensifying right at the evening rush hour, and the other, for the most part, dumping its heaviest load in the overnight hours.

Tuesday's winds, with gusts of up to 30 to 35 mph, fell short of the earlier storm's, with 35 to 40 mph gusts, which led to a longer duration of quarter-mile visibility or less, Picca said.

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