DC Snow Record Likely

The DC region will likely reach record levels of snow over the next 24-36 hours,

Seasonal snowfall over the last two decades. 45" have fallen so far in 2009-2010, the most since 1995-1996.

Seasonal snowfall over the last two decades. 45" have fallen so far in 2009-2010, the most since 1995-1996.

With the impending storm for [today] and Wednesday, we have a legitimate chance for an all-time (since records have been kept in the late 1800s) seasonal snow record.

Our big weekend storm surged Reagan National Airport’s seasonal total to 45″ with the balance of February and March yet to go. This places our current winter in position number three for the snowiest winters on record, behind 1995-96 (46″) and the big one, 1898-99 (54.4″). Of course, that all-time record was set at a more downtown location (M Street), so some may argue the higher elevation and location away from the Potomac was an easier accomplishment. But in my mind, that makes this potential record season all the more notable.

The chart above tracks seasonal totals since the 1990-91 snow season. Just look at that volatility. Get this: our 45″ this season is more than the last four winters COMBINED (which was only 35.5″).

I moved to the area in August 2002, so experienced the previous big storm season.  My arms were younger then and my driveway smaller.

The Federal government is closed for a second straight day, “the first back-to-back closure since the 2003 blizzard.”    The Atlantic Council offices are open today but telecommuting is allowed and I’ll be availing myself of the flexibility my job allows.

While there’s been a lot of joking about #snowpocalypse and #snowmaggedon and #snowmygod, the fact of the matter is that DC and even Baltimore aren’t Buffalo.   There are parts of the country where 45 inches of snow fall in a single day and won’t melt until April or May.  This isn’t one of them.   So the sane thing to do is hunker down and wait for it to pass if at all possible.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Jim Henley says:

    It’s generally accepted that the peninsula where DCA sits is about the least snowy spot in the metro area too, so if we break the all-time record with DCA snow, we’ve really broken it. (They’ve been doing the official snowfall measurements there since the late 1940s, according to Capital Weather Gang, so any snowfall records from earlier times have a leg up on records since.

  2. James Joyner says:

    That’s what I gather as well. 45 inches is a lot of snow anywhere but the most extreme climates. I’ve spent several years in Germany and never saw anything like this.

  3. Nicole says:

    No kidding, in Buffalo or other such places they know how to clear the roads! I just ventured out for the first time this morning, and was shocked at what bad shape even major roads are still in, three days after the snow stopped. Major surface streets like King St/Leesburg are still pretty messy, and even 395’s still not totally clear — forget about the exits off of it, they’re a disaster.

  4. JKB says:

    So with the Dems and their eco-warrior beliefs controlling DC why are they clamoring to increase our dependency on foreign oil and increase CO2 by using snow plows and trucks. Would it not be more eco-friendly to just leave the snow where it lay to melt naturally under the influence of global warming? What’s a little inconvenience of snow shoeing or skiing to work when you can make a personal dent in a global crisis.

  5. David says:

    I’m not sure where you got your totals but here in Manassas we have counted over 60″ so far this year, not including what’s on tap for today and tomorrow. I don’t see how Reagan airport is so far behind us? Even Dulles is well ahead of Reagan.

  6. James Joyner says:

    I’m not sure where you got your totals but here in Manassas we have counted over 60″ so far this year, not including what’s on tap for today and tomorrow. I don’t see how Reagan airport is so far behind us? Even Dulles is well ahead of Reagan.

    As Jim Henley noted at the beginning of the thread, Reagan airport is both the official measurement point and the place where snow accumulates least because of the vagaries of geography.