Snowmageddon, the Winter Storms of 2010

Additional weather history: Virginia Winters: Snow, wind, ice, and cold,  History of Mid-Atlantic Winters

Two feet of snow on the roof

Two feet on the roof

The snow began on Friday February 5. Shopping lines were so long in the grocery stores that it took up to two hours to check out. The snow began falling quietly and softly but it was very cold and very wet snow. It snowed, and it snowed and it snowed some more until late in the day Saturday February 6, 2010 dumping 20 to 36 inches depending on where the measurement was taken.

While people were still trying to get transportation, dig out and get lost power restored from the weekend storm, nature was still on the offensive. The District of Columbia and surrounding counties struggled to keep up. Snow began falling in the District of Columbia and the surrounding counties again on Tuesday February 9. An additional 14 to 20 inches fell by Wednesday night with high gusting winds on Wednesday creating 12 foot snow drifts.

February 5, 2010
Severe "Snowmageddon" Storm Approaching

Here are the top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. January 27-28, 1922 ... 28 inches
2. February 11-13, 1899 ... 20.5 inches
3. February 18-19, 1979 ... 18.7 inches
4. January 6-8, 1996 ... 17.1 inches
5. February 15-18, 2003 ... 16.7 inches
6. February 11-12, 1983 ...16.6 inches
7. December 19-20, 2009 ... 16.4 inches (Snowpocalypse)
8. February 15-16, 1958 ... 14.4 inches
9. February 7, 1936 ... 14.4 inches
10. February 16-18, 1900 ... 14.3 inches

The snow from February 10th's "Snoverkill" blizzard has pushed snow totals to record levels for the 2009-2010 winter season not only for Washington D.C., but also for Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City. Through today, here are the snowfall numbers so far for the winter, and the records they have broken:
Washington D.C. National Airport - 55.9
Old record: 54.4", Winter of 1898-1899
Washington D.C. Dulles Airport, VA - 72.8"
Old record: 61.9", Winter of 1995-1996
Baltimore, MD - 79.9"
Old record: 62.5", Winter of 1995-1996
Wilmington, DE - 66.7"
Old record: 55.9", Winter of 1995-1996
Philadelphia, PA - 71.6"
Old record: 65.5", Winter of 1995-1996
Atlantic City, NJ, 49.9"
Old record: 46.9", Winter of 1966-1967

Not just major but most likely historic snow is approaching. Please take this potentially dangerous storm seriously. Snow will start between mid-morning and mid-day, slowly lowering the temperature to around freezing. Mixed precipitation may accompany the light, beginning period of the storm. Slowly through the afternoon and early evening the snow will accumulate. But the bulk of the storm's fury will come after dark when snow rates over an inch per hour are likely. Snowfall intensity will diminish Saturday afternoon, slowly. But breezes will pickup, creating cold wind-chilled air. The impact of this storm will be felt for long after snow ceases by Saturday evening.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco has released the following statement:

An epic snowstorm has the mid-Atlantic region in its cross hairs. At this time, personal safety must be first and foremost. National Weather Service forecasters have been tracking this storm for the past week and now that the storm is here it must be taken very seriously.

February 6
Snowmageddon Departs After Setting Records
Historic accumulations common across the area

Now that was a snowstorm. The final bands of Snowmageddon are shifting away and what looks to be a long cleanup can slowly get underway. Storm totals around 1.5 to 2 feet are common, with some places up to and past 30" or 36". A little clear sky before sunset heralds a cold night and tomorrow while we begin to watch the next possibility for late Tuesday into Wednesday.

Totals include a preliminary 17.8" at National (DCA). Snowmageddon will rank number 4 in recorded history for D.C. The storm also brings D.C. to number 3 in the top winter totals on record. As of the last DCA report, only 0.9" was needed to surpass the winter of 1995-1996 which currently holds the title for most snow ever recorded at that location. Numbers also suggest that Baltimore-Washington International has set a new all time record for a two-day event. Dulles appears to be the local airport winner, with 32.4" reported.

It's a very white world in the Mid-Atlantic today, where the historic blizzard of 2010 has buried residents under a record-breaking two to three feet of snow. The storm, which President Obama referred to as "Snowmaggedon" in a speech before the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, has already set the all-time record for heaviest snowfall in Delaware history, thanks to the 25.2" that has fallen thus far at Claymont (old state record: 25" in the President's Day storm of 2003). "Snowmaggedon" has, so far, dumped the heaviest snow on record at Wilmington, Delaware (25"), the second heaviest at Philadelphia and Baltimore (26.8" each), and the 5th heaviest at Washington D.C. (17"). Several locations in Maryland have seen over three feet of snow, with the southern Baltimore suburb of Elkridge receiving 38.3", as of 4pm today. While the blizzard was not an exceptionally strong storm--the central pressure was a rather unimpressive 986 mb at the height of the blizzard, at 9am EST Saturday--it was an exceptionally wet storm. The melted equivalent precipitation for the blizzard exceeded three inches along its core snow belt.

February 10, 2010
Risky Recipe: Snow, Ice, Snow, then Wind

It started with around 2 to 5 inches of snow yesterday evening. Then, the late evening and overnight brought a period of sleet and freezing rain. Now, the entire metro area is changing back to snow and should stay that way through much of today. All this would be trouble enough on top of the 1.5 to nearly 3 feet of snow over the weekend. But add increasingly strong and gusty winds, and you have a perfect recipe for impassable streets, limited transit and power failures.

The snow: Any areas still seeing sleet or and/or freezing rain should turn over to all snow soon. Snow will be moderate to heavy at times through midday before tapering in the mid-to-late afternoon. Additional accumulations of around 3-6" inches are likely for downtown and points south and west (probably the lower end of the range as you head southwest from D.C.), with around 4-8" expected north and east of the city. That's on top of the 2-5" that's already fallen in much of the metro area, with 5-8" already recorded once you get toward Baltimore.

The winds: Probably the most severe of today's coditions will be increasingly strong winds, which will really start to crank up by around late morning. Sustained winds should reach 20-30 mph with gusts of 40-50 mph. That means blizzard or near-blizzard conditions are possible. Widespread power outages are a serious threat considering the combination of the wind and the snow and ice already weighing down trees and power lines.

February 11, 2010

The ferocious blizzard was more intense than last weekend's crippling Mid-Atlantic "Snowmageddon" snowstorm is rapidly intensifying off the Northeast U.S. coast, just south of New York City today. Blizzard conditions with heavy snow, high winds, and near zero visibility hit portions of West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York, including the cities of New York, Newark, Wilmington, Atlantic City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. The storm responsible tracked across the center of the country yesterday, leaving a wide swath of snow amounts of 4 - 16" across Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas, Alabama, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky.

The blizzard has a lower moisture content than "Snowmageddon", and the snowfall totals were not as great. Nevertheless, most of the Mid-Atlantic that received two feet of snow from "Snowmageddon" last weekend will receive another foot of snow, and there is a significant risk of roof collapses from the weight of all this snow.