updated 2/13/2013 10:49:19 AM ET 2013-02-13T15:49:19

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 Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter  @OAPlanet. We're also on  Facebook  and Google+.

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