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An Intense Visualization of the Blizzard Sweeping the East Coast

This visualization of #Snowzilla’s path certainly does look like destructive, radioactive breath sweeping across the nation.


As of this writing, a solid inch of snow has fallen on Washington, D.C., quick work for weather that only arrived two hours ago. Ten, 20, possibly 30 more inches of snow may be on the way, depending on how badly this blizzard wants to make history.

The hope here is that Jonas (or #SnowNiño or whatever we’re calling it) doesn’t break all records. While the official verdict will be measured by total accumulation and top wind speeds, there are a couple of ways to look at this “textbook” storm. Two developers and cartographers at Mapbox, Damon Burgett and Ian Villeda, created a map visualization that shows one way the blizzard is sweeping the nation.  

Using forecast date from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Model, the map depicts the “water equivalent accumulated snow depth”—essentially, the total volume of water predicted in all that snowfall. The animation is mesmerizing.

The graphic (and data) models the predicted water equivalent of accumulated snow depth from Thursday at midnight through Saturday at 2:00 p.m. It’s a staggering amount of precipitation.

On a purely visual basis, this animation makes the best case for calling the storm #Snowzilla, as it looks just like Japan’s favorite son’s destructive radioactive breath sweeping across the country. It also demonstrates the incredible scope of the storm, which is expected to touch down on at least 15 states.

About the Author

  • Kriston Capps
    Kriston Capps is a staff writer at CityLab. More

    Kriston Capps is a staff writer at CityLab, where he writes about housing, art and design. Previously, he was a senior editor at Architect magazine.