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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/22/2010

February climate facts and near feats

By Jason Samenow

* Wet and raw, mid-to-late week snow? Full Forecast *

We've talked a lot about how the winter of 2009-2010 is the snowiest on record for the region, but the month of February has brought several "almost" climate records that are worth noting. Thanks to Steve Zubrick, Science Operations Officer at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., for sharing a good deal of the information in this post (all of the information below applies to the DCA record, now maintained at Reagan National Airport)..

FACT 1: The most snow on record for the month of February is 35.2" from 1899. So far this February, we have 32.0". So we need 3.2" to break that record. Wednesday night and Thursday will probably be our last chance to break it; odds seem low right now...but not out of the question.

FACT 2: This February, DCA has reported at least a trace or more of snow on the ground every day except February impressive feat, but the 1-day gap means we have no chance of matching February 1905 -- the only month on record in which at least a trace of snow has been on the ground the entire month (although that month was just 28 days). January 1925 and January 1940 both had 29 days of a trace or more of snow depth, but not for the entire month.

Keep reading for more interesting February climate facts...

Snow cover evolution over time in Oakton, Va. While Reagan National has seen the snow almost disappear, colder suburbs still have deep snow cover. By CWG photographer Kevin Ambrose.

FACT 3: The most consecutive number of days (possibly spanning more than 1 contiguous month) reporting at least 1" or more of snow depth (measured once/day at 7 a.m.) 28 days in 1961 from Jan. 20 through Feb. 17. We're now at 16 straight days, but with DCA only reporting 4" as of yesterday morning, yesterday's 50-degree afternoon, today's rain, and continued melting through midweek, it's going to be tough to keep 1" on the ground much longer.

FACT 4: February 1905 is not only notable for having snow on the ground for the whole month, but also for its cold. It is the only month (like January, June, etc. defined by a calendar) in the record books where each of the average daily temperatures were all below normal. This February, the average temperature has been at or below normal every day except Feb. 19 and yesterday (there have been four days when temperatures have been right at average). Remarkably, high temperatures have been below normal every day except yesterday when Reagan National (DCA) hit 50.

FACT 5: February 1905 is the only February month in 138 years in D.C. where the maximum temperature failed to reach at least 50F (the highest that month was 49F on Feb. 25). Since yesterday hit 50, we will have just missed matching that record this year.

By Jason Samenow  | February 22, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate  
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Thought y'all might wanna add this to your blogroll. I'm in no way affiliated with/to it.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | February 22, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Great research & facts! Thanks to Steve! Glad to get them out to CWG readers who had often been asking "just *how* record breaking has this winter/February been?"

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | February 22, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Ok, in your best political campaign voice, chant after me:

Four more inches! Four more inches!

Posted by: bodypolitic1 | February 22, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

four more inches! four more inches!

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 22, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Four inches just isn't worth my effort. Make it seven, at a minimum.

Posted by: chunche | February 22, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Another Washington, DC record that I have not seen mentioned is most snow in a 12-day period. During January 30-February 10, 2010, there were 38.3 inches of snow at DCA -- an unprecedented amount for such a brief period, including February 1899 (Great Blizzard) and January 1922 (Knickerbocker Storm). Also, during that 12-day period, there were 50.2 inches at IAD, which was way beyond anything ever recorded there in such a period.

Posted by: rodneysmall | February 22, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

You can almost always create a record out of a moderately unusual period by picking your spots. So snowiest 12-day period but not maybe 7-day or 16-day period. Or mybe it is, I don't know. Snowiest month is moderately impressive, but still arbitrary. If we took the month to be January 29-February 28, we'd have at least 38 inches, depending what we get through Saturday, which would be the snowiest month ever. Has there been another 30-day period with more snow? I don't know. I'm sure there haven't been many of them.

The calendar year 1987 had more than 50 inches of snow at DCA, probably the snowiest calendar year ever, helped by the 11.5 inches in November of that year, an all-time record for November....

It's been quite a winter by any measure. If we get a few more inches of snow, it will surely belong near the very top, as it already is in terms of total snowfall, although given the imprecision of snowfall, that's a different story.

Posted by: doubtingdavid | February 22, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for putting this together. I was wondering about these things. It is interesting that we have not has a really cold day this month (single digits), but it has been real consistent in below normal temps all month.

Posted by: Tom8 | February 22, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Calendar 1987 had only 42.6 inches at DCA, all of which but 0.8 inches fell in just four big storms: January 22, 10.8 inches; January 25-26, 9.2 inches (total of 20 inches in the "Double Whammy"); February 22-23, 10.3 inches; and November 11 ("Veterans Day Storm"), 11.5 inches. That places Calendar 1987 third behind Calendar 1899 (49.8 inches) and Calendar 1996 (44.6 inches). We are currently at 39.4 inches for Calendar 2010.

Posted by: rodneysmall | February 22, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@Rodneysmall, the final figure is for CY10 is also the number that will appear in the 2012 World Almanac for CY10. (The CY09 DCA figure will be about 24.3".)

Count me in for an additional 4" at DCA and 6.8" for IAD, to get IAD to 80" for season.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 22, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

It's my personal hope that the pro-snow-howlers on this board have no elderly or handicapped folks in their family or group of friends who had a heck of hard time with these recent storms. I spent a LOT of time shoveling/snowblowing out people who just couldn't do it themselves, and I'll do it again, but I could easily live without it for another winter.

OOOOOOh, the snow is pretty! See how it sparkles.


Posted by: Gunga2009 | February 22, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"Four inches just isn't worth my effort. Make it seven, at a minimum."

That's what she said!

(Sorry, couldn't resist.) :) :)

Posted by: mhardy1 | February 22, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering how long it would take the snowophobes to get cranking.

We've all been inconvenienced in one way or another. Bus service just fully resumed in my Glover Park neighborhood this a.m. with the reappearance of a full complement of big bruiser a.m. rush hour buses. (The tinker toy busses to DuPont Circle gradually began reappearing a few days ago.)

I've struggled through and over snow and ice for days on unshovelled sidewalks for nearly three weeks and another 4" of snow isn't going to bring D.C. to its knees. So, bring it on!

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | February 22, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

uh...light rain here. NOT pretty or sparkley at all. more dreary than anything.

(fake) sorry. this snow-howler can't satisfy your (fake) hopes for me. i have elderly neighbors in 3 nearby houses. myself and another neighbor take it upon ourselves to shovel them out. we do their sidewalks and driveways. no big deal. we check on them during/between the storms. the one neighbor brought "thank-you" cookies over to my house the other day.

we brought my wife's elderly parents over to her sister's house for the duration of the feb 5 - 10 storms. a great time was had by all. times like those storms can actually serve to bring people closer....

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | February 22, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey CWG, can you roll out the same "5 Facts", but apply them towards BWI and IAD as well? Thanks ahead of time ;-)

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 22, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I had to write a check against my home equity to pay my bills because some people, surprise surprise, actually can't earn money when snow paralyzes the city. Have all you "bring it on" people thought of that? Or do you all get paid to stay home from work?

You've had your fun. Enough already.

I don't mind shoveling, and the snow has its moments, but the thought of more is actually very dispiriting to those of us who are going into debt over it.

Posted by: Hyperlocal | February 23, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Hey Hyperlocal,

We snow lovers love snow, yes, but we aren't actually responsible for it, um, falling out the sky.

Posted by: Rcmorgan | February 23, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Interesting stats. It sure has been windy the whole winter. Is there any way to quantify how windy it has been and compare it to other years?

Posted by: marvelous35 | February 23, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse


Though there are some wind data we can analyze, outside of a couple windy periods around major storms (e.g. Snoverkill), not sure the wind has been out of the ordinary. We'll take a look at the end of the month, and can include some info in our Feb climate wrap-up if there's anything noteworthy.


When we do our February climate recap, we'll try to add some interesting stats from BWI and IAD into the mix.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | February 23, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Re: Fact 2, how could there have been "at least a trace or more of snow on the ground every day except February 5"? Wasn't February 5 the day the snowstorm started--resulting in a bit more than a measurable trace of snow? Am I reading that wrong, or is it some other date? Thanks. Love this blog.

Posted by: jollyvu | February 23, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I believe that snow depths are measured around noon, and so on February 5, the measurement rounded down to zero. However, if the measurement had been taken at, say 6 P.M. on February 5, there would likely have been at least an inch of snow recorded.

Posted by: rodneysmall | February 23, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I believe that snow depths are measured around noon, and so on February 5, the measurement rounded down to zero. However, if the measurement had been taken at, say 6 P.M. on February 5, there would likely have been at least an inch of snow recorded.

Posted by: rodneysmall | February 23, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

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