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Northeast Snowstorm Officially Was 'Major'

NASA's Terra satellite snapped this image of snow blanketing the Northeast on Feb. 10, 2013.
NASA's Terra satellite snapped this image of snow blanketing the Northeast on Feb. 10, 2013. (Image credit: NASA)

Turns out those babies and cats trapped behind snow-blocked doors on YouTube really did have something to cry about last weekend.

The massive blizzard that pummeled the Northeast starting Feb. 9 was a "major" storm, according to a ranking system devised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2011.

The snowstorm ranked 3 out of 5 on the Regional Snow Index, which uses the size of the snowstorm and amount of snowfall, combined with the affected population, to rank snowstorm impact in the eastern United States. The index is similar to the scales used to rank hurricanes and tornadoes.

More than 49,000 people across 192 square miles (497 square kilometers) saw at least 30 inches (76 centimeters) of snow as a result of the storm, NOAA said in a statement.

On a tally of all storms since 1900, the weekend's blizzard ranks 16th on the Regional Snow Index, according to NOAA. The No. 1 spot is held by a February 1969 nor'easter, while the No. 2 spot goes to 1993's "Storm of the Century."

Reach Becky Oskin at boskin@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.