One cold and snowy day on the National Mall
Revisiting Saturday's snow...
What may be remembered by many as the "sneak attack" snowstorm of January 2010 this past Saturday was an oddball around the Washington metro area. Most obviously, trends that were far from promising for snow lovers reverted back to the "right" direction as the storm approached, something of an emergent theme for winter 09-10 it seems. Also, it was quite cold both at the ground and above, which provided for a very fluffy -- lovingly known to skiers as champagne -- relatively high-ratio snow.
Keep reading for more photos and further explanation for the powdery consistency of Saturday's snow...
Just as my photographer friend Kevin Ambrose was eagerly awaiting the opportunity, I had been intently watching the potential storm for days. In the end, the cold joined forces with the precipitation, resulting in an uncommonly fluffy snow event.
My journey to the Mall began at Old Ebbitt Grill, where I met with some fellow weather fans for an early-afternoon feast and some good old-fashioned meteorological geekiness. During my walk, from around 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., temperatures hovered near 18 degrees with wind chills near 0F. Somehow it did not deter me -- not right away at least.
A typical D.C. snow event is thick and heavy -- much like last night's snowfall -- and often mixed with sleet, rain and other assorted objects. This one was not. Instead of huge clumpy flakes, much of this storm fell as a finer but still dendritic "mist" (see snow type guide). When the snow was light, and seemingly non-accumulating, it was slowly piling up. During more intense periods a quick thump of an inch or more over a short time was common (see a view from the WWII Memorial toward the Lincoln Memorial 1/2 mile away).
Many storms in this area have liquid-to-snow ratios around 10:1 or 12:1. In other words, for 1" of liquid either 10 or 12 inches of snow falls. Both Dulles and Baltimore-Washington International (National not included because of an apparent faulty reading of .13" liquid to 6.4" of snow) airports reported ratios on the order of 20:1 with this event, while some spotters reported around 15:1. The ground-level cold, aided by optimal temperatures and conditions in the snow growth region of the clouds, was conducive to the light and fluffy snow which buried the area despite modest liquid numbers.
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