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Posted at 8:15 PM ET, 02/ 4/2010

Will Snowmageddon make history?

By Jason Samenow

*** Our Latest Forecast, Accumulation Map & Timeline ***

* Winter Storm Warning Friday morning through Saturday evening *
* 2 double-digit snows? | Q&A transcript | Winter driving tips *
* Follow storm on twitter: #Snowpocalypse | E-mail forecast to a friend *
* News, traffic & storm coverage: Local home page | Get There *

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

Will Snowmageddon earn a spot on this list? Keep reading to vote or view results...

By Jason Samenow  | February 4, 2010; 8:15 PM ET
Categories:  Local Climate, Snowmageddon  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Snowmageddon: Snowstorm likely to be historic
Next: Update: Some FAQs for Snowmageddon Eve


Hey Jason - what did you vote for?

Posted by: TheTim | February 4, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse


I don't want to bias the results, but up there...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | February 4, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm going for #2!

Posted by: allisondt | February 4, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

I said #5

I have a feeling that it will be a lot of snow but not near the 20' mark

Posted by: Bious | February 4, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

I went #2 as well, the storm I refuse to call anything other than SNOWZILLA will dump 22-24 inches.

Posted by: ironmanjt | February 4, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I voted for #1. Been hearing from some folks connected with the state police that they have been told to expect perhaps 30" or more of snow this weekend so I am predicting this is going to be the record breaker.

Posted by: RWRose | February 4, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: allisondt | February 4, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

have a feeling that it will be a lot of snow but not near the 20' mark
Posted by: Bious | February 4, 2010 8:27 PM

Personally, I think a mere 19 feet is plenty.

Posted by: sparman | February 4, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I went with outside top 10, measuring at DCA. They will only report 12, after they dump half of it in the river.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | February 4, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

Promise if we get a third big storm...and we know it's possible...we can name it Snowfecta!!

Posted by: SPS1 | February 4, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

I vote somewhere between 3 and 4, but that's my estimate for where I happen to live -- Arlington. Other places around the beltway I'm sure could see more.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 4, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

nice one oldtimehockey.

Posted by: dotjeffdot | February 4, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Got a similar Top 10 list for Dulles?

Posted by: beachman | February 4, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

The snowpocalypse website is amazing, I cracked up. Bwahaha.

I voted that this will come in #3.

Posted by: weatherdudeVA | February 4, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Definitely like the idea of "Snowfecta" for storm number three.

And I'm assuming the two earliest (and highest) storms were readings not taken at DCA?

Posted by: gretchenlaskas | February 4, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The unofficial #1 is the Washington and Jefferson Snowstorm of January 27-29, 1772, at 36". The Gazette of Annapolis wrote: "It is with utmost difficulty people pass from one house to another."

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | February 4, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

The snowpocalypse website is best viewed while playing an alarm klaxon audio sample in another window.

Posted by: mason08 | February 4, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Allisondt, u should put a hit counter on there. i want to see how many people stumble across it.

Posted by: bhfairfax | February 4, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

@Kevin -- That is true of even a 6" snowstorm in DC.

Posted by: ah___ | February 4, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Well, seems to me at this point there's virtually no chance of this storm overperforming. This has reached AccuHypether levels.

Even so, I've got it moving into #4 all time on that list. Once it passes #8, it's an easy climb to #4, but after that it starts to stretch out.

Posted by: ah___ | February 4, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I voted #1, over 28 inches. I'm confident this storm will produce !

Posted by: letitsnow | February 4, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

So I'm left wondering about tomorrow morning and work. I'm a contractor so I don't have a huge pool of leave to dip into. Is the consensus amongst the peanut gallery that one should stay home tomorrow? I live in Annandale and work down at Ft. Belvior. Will it be a morning fine but get the heck outta work at lunchtime sort of deal? I guess it might be clear cut by morning.

Posted by: HokieAnnie | February 4, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Stop putting @ before ones handle, it is hackneyed and trite.

Posted by: TheMot | February 4, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse

problem is the official measuremeent is at DCA and for some reason that measurement always seems lower than what everyone else has. If we beat the 96 storm - I'll be impressed. That was one to remember.

Posted by: nolagirl67 | February 4, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

@TheMot - No :)

Also, it is the common way now, since about 2006, for addressing people on the internet. See Twitter, Facebook, et al.

Posted by: joelhousman | February 4, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

@CWG - can you tell me what the abbreviation PV means? It's all over the accuweather forums. . .

Posted by: 300_sq_ft | February 4, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

The eastern us WX forum is now saying NAM has greatly reduced QPF and moved the low south and east. Have the other models followed suit?

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | February 4, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Just for the record, the measurements taken at DCA are just bullshi*. I measured 20" all over my neighborhood in December and the NWS "offcial" measurement 2.5 miles away in Arlington was 20"

I don't know if it is because all the pavement, the water, the equipment, but those numbers should be taken with a HUGE grain of salt.

I know you need them for apples-to-apples, but beyond that they are pretty much useless.

Posted by: singleseatbiggermeat | February 4, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

@TheMot -- what joelhousman said. And since the comments here aren't numbered as in some other forums, the @ makes it somewhat easier to track and follow comments.

Posted by: natsncats | February 4, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

@bhfairfax I wish I came up with it, but it's not my site....

Posted by: allisondt | February 4, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad DCA has lower then most actual measurements. DCA's measurement is how my condo association is charged for per inch snow removal. We prepaid for 20 inches this year thinking that was plentiful. On a normal year it would have been. We are getting hammer this year. I dont want to even think how much the total for snow removal is going to be for our 200 unit condos.

Posted by: allisondt | February 4, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

When is the next scheduled update? Love this blog. Hope I'm this interested in July!

Posted by: jpg63 | February 4, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone have any leads on where to buy a sled?

(Are u kidding...this guy is looking for a sled 12 hours before the flakes start flying? What an idiot!)

I know, I know...but I've been looking for weeks and can't find anything! I don't need anything high-tech, just something to pull my kids around in.

Posted by: db_in_va | February 4, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

It looks like the last NAM moved the cold air a little further south along with some of the precipitation. Am I just hopeful, seeing things, or delusional (nice three choices, eh?)?

Posted by: IMFT | February 4, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

People in DC crack me up. How is this snow any different than a month ago? Sheesh.

Posted by: sknyluv | February 4, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

That 16 inches for 2003 is so idiotic, EVERYbody had 2 feet of snow, except the airport.

Posted by: kls1 | February 4, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

it would be better to get less QPF at higher ratios. Easier to shovel, but still the volume.
I'm staying awake to see the GFS run due in 1/2 hour. Or, rather, what people who know what they're talking about interpret of it.

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | February 4, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

@HokieAnnie: I am planning on driving to work and leaving early shortly after lunch...

Posted by: stuckman | February 4, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Finally...Howard County schools closing 3 hours early. MD seems to be leaning towards early dismissals while VA was quick to close up shop for tomorrow.

Posted by: mickb1 | February 4, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

@ et al..

No, actually @ started in medieval days by monks and the symbol for units of measurement later to ship grain in terra cotta jars.

The @ symbol was a 3rd generation to the # sign and the lower case d. But hey, add the @ symbol all ya want, just keep doing whatever is "pop" today dictate how you operate!

I'll just sit back and figure out how I'm supposed to get to DC from Gaithersburg Sunday morning @ 4am for work...

In the words of Charlie Brown; "good grief!"

Posted by: TheMot | February 4, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Wow..getting some cranky people on here as the snow draws closer.

kls1...I have lived in Manassas for 9 years...I don't remember having 2 feet in 2003...or any other time since I moved out here from Arlington. So you might be over generalizing just a weeee bit by claiming "everyone" got 2 feet in 2003. about adding another half foot for a lot of folks on top of what we got in December for adding a bit to the worry? I only got 19" in December...that is the low end for what is over my house for this weekend. I didn't like digging out back then...why would wouldn't IO be a bit unnerved about digging out that much PLUS another 6 or so inches above and beyond?

Plus, we all know how poorly the local response is when you get that much took them three days to dig us out to the point something smaller than a 4-wheel drive could actuially get out in December. I am not optomistic about when I might be able to get out after this one.

Kim in Manassas

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 4, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse


You're correct ... tonight's NAM shifted a little south with the heaviest amounts, but still gives a ton of snow. Other guidance has not shown that shift. We'll be watching the GFS model which ocmes out in the 30 minutes or so to see if it shows any similar trend. Update coming around 11 pm.

Posted by: Dan-CapitalWeatherGang | February 4, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

300: If it's weather geeks like me, they're likely talking about Potential Vorticity.

It's a variable used in dynamics that happens to be very concise and powerful (i.e. you can describe a lot about a situation through this single variable and how it behaves).

Posted by: dtkwx | February 4, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

@dtkwx: Thank you!

Posted by: 300_sq_ft | February 4, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Manassas guy, are you anywhere near Dulles?

From the summary of 2003 Presidents Day snowstorm (google it)

Officially, 16.7" of snow fell at Reagan National, which was Washington's 5th greatest storm on record. 22.1" fell at Dulles Airport, their third greatest storm. At BWI, an incredible 28.2" fell, breaking the all-time Baltimore record set during the Knickerbocker Storm of January 1922.

Generally 20-28" fell in the western, northern and northeast suburbs, and 15-20" fell from D.C. south. The eastern suburbs fared well, with Annapolis recording 23".

Posted by: kls1 | February 4, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

This is Manassas girl, and no, I live 20 miles from Dulles.

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 4, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: 300_sq_ft | February 4, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Manassas girl, methinks you may be exaggerating a wee bit on how far you live from Dulles...

Posted by: kls1 | February 4, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

kls1...since I drive it regularly for business travel and have to put the milage on my travel expense reports for reimbursement...I think not.

But hey, if you truly believe that 2 feet of snow isn't a big deal because we have been thru it all before, have at it. I know that I will be sitting trapped on my cul du sac until at least Sunday night if not longer, waiting to get plowed out to a point where I can safely get down the hill that leads to my neighborhood without visualizing a ski jump as I head out of the neighborhood.

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 4, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I remember getting around 16" in Manassas in 2003. However, in 1996 we definitely got 24" so I'm not sure how National only got 17".

Posted by: JustinKJames | February 4, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Ummm... since when did the GFS put out more precip than the NAM? Haha.

Posted by: JTF- | February 4, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

we're gonna get slammed. bullseye right over DC/Baltimore.

Posted by: mickb1 | February 4, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Is the snow really not starting until 10am, because it looks like it's going to start earlier than that?

Posted by: dustinmfox1 | February 4, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

^"I know that I will be sitting trapped on my cul du sac until at least Sunday night if not longer, waiting to get plowed out to a point where I can safely get down the hill that leads to my neighborhood without visualizing a ski jump as I head out of the neighborhood."

Posted by: ksrgatorfn1 | February 4, 2010 10:46 PM

Sounds like Inlet Court (Inlet Cluster), in Reston. Moguls included!

Posted by: ariellem | February 4, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

The 36 in the January 28, 1772 Washington and Jefferson snowstorm was on the hilltop at Monticello. Not clear what it was in DC. Oddly, the next-in-line, the Knickerbocker Storm of January 28, 1922 was exactly 150 years after. Basically this shows that this time of year (consider Feb 11, 1983--somewhat similar to what is about to unfold) is a pretty good time here for major, major snow.

Welcome to the past.

Posted by: pmichaels1 | February 5, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I voted for #2, but it all depends upon how Reagan National Airport measures their snow levels. Last time they low-balled somehow, by between 4"-8" (I don't know anywhere near DCA where they only received 16.4" of accumulation during the December megastorm).

Btw, I apologize if this was already answered (If I forget to check-in here over a 48 Hour period, I sometimes fall behind in the posts), but did anyone ever find a reason for why the airport snowfall totals were so much lower than most of our backyard measurements? I'm near IAD, and I measured in dozens of locations, and I always totaled 19" from our December storm. Yet, IAD reported only 16". To quote the climate blog, "What's Up With That?" lol.

Btw, regarding the 2003 storm, I walked a few miles to my friend's house in the middle of that. I had to climb up the snow berms on the side of the roadway so that I wasn't in the middle of the street at night, and when I reached the corner of two major streets, I started to hop over the top of an 8'+ pile, when my left leg suddenly sank in all the way up to my waist. Then, I tried to push up with my right foot, and I felt it starting to sink. I suddenly felt a bit uneasy, and I thought that I might get buried until spring. I had to lean over onto my side while pulling my left leg out, and I somehow rolled over and jumped down the little snow mountain. Lol, I almost thought I was a goner :-p (I laugh now, but at the time it scared me to death). I just got snowshoes this past Christmas though, so no more of THAT! (If we have a blizzard, I'll send a photo into CWG to publish on here. I'll have all my Winter gear on (Goggles, Face-mask, Snowshoes and all) chilling outside with my sled dog).

Stay safe everyone, and enjoy the snowfall! ;-)

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 5, 2010 1:02 AM | Report abuse

@ db_in_va, use a trash can lid. I have a ton of sleds from my childhood still around (I'm not THAT old lol), but I doubt you live anywhere nearby (Reston, VA).

Also, do you have any inflatable mattresses, or swimming pool items? As long as you watch for debris, you can use these too.

Hard plastic lunch trays also work, and a thick metal cookie tray might do the same.

Also, flattened cardboard boxes are doable.

I just recently saw a little girl on TV using an office chair to slide down a hill lol. Make certain that you're in front to catch them though, and I wouldn't recommend it for steep hills.

Worst case, zip up, and charge down a hill then body-slide.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | February 5, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

CWG - What is the chance areas like AA county near the bay see blizzard warning issues when the low gets cranking, say 6:00-10:00 am tomorrow morning?

Posted by: snowlover | February 5, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

You do need to look at history. DC has never recorded two 16-inch+ (or even 15+) snowfalls in a single season since records began in 1870; heck, it's only recorded 7 15+ storms, and all 7 were 16+, altogether (one every 20 years on average). So if we were to get 15+ at DCA in this one, it would be historic; 20 would be amazing (and that would surprise me).

That said, Boston had never recorded a 20-inch snowstorm at the beginning of 1978 and then it got two over 20 in a 3-week period. Anything can happen, let's hope.

Posted by: doubtingdavid | February 5, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

#3, possibly #2. Top dog or "Big Kahuna" isn't out of the question...but DCA total would have to beat "Kinckerbocker"!

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 5, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

If the official measuring station (Reagan) doesn't have the highest amount when the storm ends, then either take what is the greatest amount from another place or average out measurements from several places to get a final average total. Stop using the 'heat island' at the airport as the official one place measuring site when we talk about the metro DC region.

Posted by: bbmcoachk | February 5, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Oh Capital Weather Gangsters, why is DCA, located in Arlington, VA, the official recordkeeper for DC weather?

I say we have 20 inches easily (Bethesda), but DCA always seems lower than everywhere else.

Posted by: climategirl | February 6, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Snowmageddon tee shirt! -->

Posted by: grantohill | February 6, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

DCA is a horrendous place for measuring snowfall.

Posted by: wecndo | February 6, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Agree completely with wecndo... DCA is not at all a reflection of actual snowfall associated with this storm. If anyone believes that this storm produced less snow than the December snow storm ("Snowpocalypse"), you're absolutely delusional. We have 28+ inches in Northern Virginia folks... wake up!!!!!

Posted by: LemFam | February 6, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

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