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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/ 5/2008

The Cold and Snowy Reversal of March 1960

By Matt Ross

By the end of February 1960, D.C. area cold and snow lovers were probably feeling a lot like their contemporaries do this winter. All three winter months finished with temperatures above average, and there was no measurable snow until Feb. 13-14 when just over 6 inches fell in D.C. The official total through the end of February was 7.2 inches, not unlike the paltry 4.9 inches that have fallen at Reagan National so far this winter.

Then came March.

March 1960 would be one for the record books. At an average of 35.6 degrees, it was our third coldest March on record and coldest since 1885. By more than four degrees it is our coldest March ever recorded at National Airport (since 1941), finishing at 11 degrees below normal as measured by current norms.

And then there was the snow. Over 17 inches fell, making it our second snowiest March on record (behind only March 1914, which came in at 19.3") and our snowiest as measured at National Airport.

Here's some more March 1960 trivia ...

  • The temperature at National Airport did not rise above 40 degrees until March 17 and not above 50 until the 24th.
  • We did not have a low temperature above freezing until March 17.
  • It may have been the coldest ever on record were it not for a mini heat wave at the end of the month including 80 degrees on the 28th.
  • The 17.1" of snow that fell pushed the seasonal total to over 24" or about 150% of normal. We were sitting at 45% of normal on March 1st .
  • The snow fell in three different storms, all a week apart, from March 2 through March 16, with the biggest on March 2-3 (7.9" in D.C., 10.5" in Baltimore).

By Matt Ross  | March 5, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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Comments

Why oh WHY can't we have this happen again? At least there is a CHANCE this weekend.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA (Lake Ridge) | March 5, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I love how, in Henry Margusity's latest AccuWeather blog entry, he continues to use "Big Daddy" in the headline referring to this weekend's "storm," and yet he finishes the entry with, "I am not getting into the blizzard hype. While I can see how that all happens, I think it's a little early to be talking about a storm of that magnitude given the divergence of the operational models on the track and strength." Oh, PUH-LEEZE, Henry -- don't even attempt to take the meteorological "high road" after getting us fired up about model-predicted storms week after week all winter long!! This guy is a joke...

Posted by: VAStateOfMind | March 5, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

March of 1960, was truly one for the record books. My area of the Valley received around 45 inches of snow from mid Feb. through mid March. The average temp. for March of 1960 was only 29.10 degrees. This was the coldest March during at least the past 60 years.

For the many interested in the setup for the Fri.-Sat. system, one major missing component is the 50/50 low. Instead we have a 50/50 high, early on. That feature will be pumping warm air off the Atlantic. The 50/50 low would be teaming with the high over the northern Lakes and would be feeding cold air from Canada into the storm.

12Z GFS is 'standing pat".

Posted by: Augusta Jim | March 5, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I know people like to bash HM but I think he has calmed down allot (less Hype), and he really explains his reasoning behind his forecast unlike Mr. VT. Granted he is wrong 75% of the time but show me a forecaster who is 75% correct 4 or 5 days out on any storm. Here's his latest update on potential storm for the end of the week. http://www.accuweather.com/news-blogs.asp?partner=accuweather&blog=meteomadness

Posted by: HEELS | March 5, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

All-
If we can pin down the timing, location and strength of the Eastern Canadian High for this weekend's storm, the rest will follow with certainty. It's sometimes best to watch the positions and strengths of the HIGHS on these models, especially this time of year when temperatures start to be marginal. It's an extra "must-have" ingredient for in the mix that makes March storms rarer by the day as the month drags on.

Posted by: Curtis | March 5, 2008 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not an expert by any means, but even my limited knowledge leaves me BAFFLED as to why people are getting hopes up for a snowstorm this weekend. Temps are too warm. And it is MARCH, when snow is RARE.

Posted by: Southside FFX | March 5, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

FIRST

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Looks like there's a good possibility that our area could see a decent amount of rain again Fri/Sat.

Will certainly help stave off a drought this summer.

Posted by: Ivan | March 5, 2008 3:17 PM | Report abuse

There's a good (although moderately technical in places) review of the remarkably persistent cold of March 1960 here (1 MB pdf file). A number of cities set March snowfall records, and Roanoke, Asheville, and Greensboro set all-time records. The Washington 7-day precipitation periodicity ran on Thursdays from mid-February to mid-March.

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | March 5, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Southside, some of our biggest storms have been in March.

Posted by: VA | March 5, 2008 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Dream on: Actually, of the 2418 March days since 1930, only 7 of them (0.29%) have had more than 4" of snow, and only 2 of those were in the last 30 years.
3 29 1942 11.5"
3 9 1999 8.4"
3 7 1941 8"
3 3 1960 7.1"
3 13 1993 6.5"
3 30 1964 4.8"
3 3 1978 4.1"

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | March 5, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

How is the march superstorm only 6.5 inches of snow!?!?!?!?!? I heard that storm brought over a foot of snow to the entire DC area

Posted by: skins fan | March 5, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

I heard that storm dumped 13 inches of snow in DC.

Posted by: Yellow | March 5, 2008 8:28 PM | Report abuse

3-13-93:
National 6.5"
Dulles 13.9"
BWI 11.3"

Posted by: Steve, Capital Weather Gang | March 6, 2008 12:16 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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