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Three Very Snowy February's

Matt Ross @ 1:00 AM


The seasonable weather will continue today. Expect mostly sunny and breezy conditions with highs in the low to mid 40s. Look for conditions to even cool a bit below normal as we head toward the weekend.

Ice Skating at Reston Town Center on Monday, Courtesy of Photographer, Kevin Ambrose

Three Very Snowy February's

Whether we can generate some snowfall in this colder pattern is yet to be seen. But our 3 snowiest February's on record stand well ahead of the others and are all unique in their own way.

Our 3rd snowiest on record and most recent of the big 3 is February 2003 with 28.7" recorded at National Airport(DCA). February 2003 was marked by 3 distinct storms. Three years ago today we culminated the 1st storm of the month with 6.6" at DCA. The second of the 3 occurred over President's Day Weekend(PDII) and was DC's 5th biggest snowfall of all time at 16.7". PDII or PD2003 is most memorable not only for the historic snowfall, but the very long duration and frigid temps. Although a modest coastal low did form, much of our snow came from overrunning precipitation as a result of a very weak low pressure system in the Tennessee Valley that ran into a very cold airmass. As is often the case with good DC snow events, the strength and placement of the cold high pressure system to our north is as or more important than the low pressure system, usually to our south or west. We capped the month off with a nearly 6" event during February 26th-28th. Due to the increasing sun angle, snow had a hard time accumulating during the day, but was quite heavy at night during this storm.

The 2nd snowiest February of all time(30.6"), 1979, is also the coldest on record at DCA at almost 10 degrees below normal. After two nearly 6" events early in the month, the winter was punctuated by the President's Day storm(PDI) or Blizzard of 1979, our 3rd largest of all time at 18.7". PDI is best remembered by the amazing snowfall rates overnight which allowed a huge amount of snow to pile up in a short period of time. Many are probably familiar with the famous photo of Wisconsin Avenue looking north from M St. This storm is also famous for the satellite image pictured to the right courtesy of Penn State, which resembles the eye like structure of a hurricane.

Our snowiest February on record was 1899(35.2"), which is also our snowiest winter on record. Most of the snow that month fell in two storms less than a week apart in early February. The 1st at 13.7" is our 9th biggest of all time. This was followed only 3 days later by our 2nd biggest snowfall of all time, the Blizzard of 1899 at 20.5". One of our coldest February's of all time, February 1899 featured five record low temperatures including DC's all time record low of -15 degrees on February 11th right before the commencement of the famous blizzard. This arctic outbreak was one of the most severe in recorded history as every state in the entire Eastern seaboard recorded subzero readings.

So far this February while showing some signs of promise, has a long way to go to match the memories and fame of the above three.

The Jefferson Memorial During a Crisp Sunny Day Late Monday Afternoon, Courtesy of Photographer, Ian Livingston

Snow Lover's Crystal Ball

Next Chance of Accumulating Snow: Friday, February 10th - Sunday, February 12th
Probability: 20%
Potential Impact:
Commentary: There is a clipper system that will approach from our northwest that may spawn a coastal low on Saturday. While this system bears watching, my enthusiasm and confidence are low

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