Newport only place to experience official blizzard in RI

Sky Drone 12 over Newport looking west over Newport Harbor

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Many places in Rhode Island had blizzard-like conditions, but the only place in Rhode Island to have an official blizzard was Newport.

A day after the storm, it was still pretty windy in the City by the Sea, but it was nothing like it was at the height of Tuesday’s nor’easter.

Eyewitness News caught up with Amanda Bogner and Randy Macieko, who are visiting from New Jersey. They’re familiar with winter weather. A foot of snow fell in their hometowns in the northwest part of New Jersey.

Sky Drone 12 over Portsmouth looking north toward the Mount Hope Bridge.

“Our hotel’s pretty much on the dock, near the water, and all you heard all night was wind slamming into screens, chairs getting lifted off the deck a little,” Bogner said when describing what it was like during the blizzard.

The young couple are visiting during their spring break. It’s hardly a week for spring break on Aquidneck Island. Nearly 10 inches of snow fell in Portsmouth and Middletown, and about 9 inches fell in Newport. Other parts of Rhode Island, like Burrillville and Foster, got two feet of snow.  With blizzards, however, it’s not just about the falling snow, it’s about the wind and visibility.

“The official definition of a blizzard is that falling and/or blowing snow reduces visibility to below one-quarter mile along with sustained winds or winds that frequently gust to 35 mph or more,” according the National Weather Service website. These conditions have to be the predominant conditions for a period of three consecutive hours.

That’s exactly the kind of conditions which persisted from 8:50 a.m. to 1:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Sky Drone 12 over Portsmouth looking east toward Prudence Island.

“Just white. You couldn’t even see the Newport Bridge,” Macieko said, describing the ferocity of the storm.

“The wind picked up in the morning, but it kind died down a little during the night,” Bogner added.

During the time of blizzard conditions, the winds gusted as high as 46 mph. An even higher gust of 51 mph was measured later in the afternoon.

“The whole day, we just had to stay in the room,” Macieko said. “It was too bad outside. It was windy, snowy.”

The last time blizzard conditions were reached in Rhode Island, was back on Jan. 4 on Block Island.