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Snowstorm that hit Long Island, Northeast rated ‘crippling’ Category 4 by NOAA

Visibility was limited along National Boulevard in

Visibility was limited along National Boulevard in Long Beach on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. The two-day Nor'easter was rated as "crippling" by NOAA. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The system that dropped close to 30 inches of snow Saturday in some areas of Long Island has been deemed one of “the most powerful winter storms . . . to impact the Northeast U.S. since 1950,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

The storm, which delivered blizzard conditions in some areas — although that is not yet confirmed for Long Island — was rated a category 4. That means it was labeled as crippling, ranking as the fourth most powerful, based on NOAA’s Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale.

Scores factor in how large an area was affected, snowfall amounts and the number of people living in a storm’s path.

“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,” said Paul Kocin, meteorologist with NOAA’s National Weather Service and co-developer of the scale.

Dropping heavy snow from Jan. 22 to 24 from the mid-Atlantic up to southern New England, the storm traversed 434,000 square miles, impacting about 102.8 million people, NOAA said in a news release. Some 24 million of them — Long Islanders included – had to dig out from more than 20 inches of snow.

Other storms that made the scale include two category 5s — labeled extreme — from March 1993 and January 1996, as well as March 1960’s category 4.

The scale’s other developer, Louis W. Uccellini, the National Weather Service’s director and a Bethpage native, pointed to various factors that helped forecasters identify the system a full week ahead including “investments in the capabilities of our supercomputers.”

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