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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/11/2010

February recap: Once in a lifetime snows

By Jason Samenow

* Big rains coming: Full Forecast | March is fickle *

The big dig in Cleveland Park (Washington, D.C.) following the "Snoverkill" blizzard of February 10, 2010. By CWG photographer Ian Livingston.

Statistical odds suggest Washingtonians alive today may never experience another 10 days of weather comparable to February 1-10, 2010. The amount of snow we witnessed in that short span was unprecedented (in recorded history), and will likely stand in the record book unsurpassed for years to come.

The National Weather Service's monthly climate summaries for Reagan National, Dulles, and BWI airports detail some of the amazing climatological statistics for February, 2010. I've excerpted some the highlights below (bold text indicates emphasis added)...

Reagan National Airport

February was dominated by record snowfall. February 2010 was the second snowiest February and second all time snowiest month ever...Just several inches shy of the all time snowiest month of February 1899 when 35.2 inches of snow fell.

The bulk of the February snow fell in the first 10 days. Three different low pressure systems were responsible for bringing 31.9 inches of snow to Washington, D.C. during this time.

The two-day snowfall total of 17.8 inches Feb 5-6 was the fourth highest two-day snowfall total on record for Washington, D.C.

Keep reading for more February climate statistics, courtesy the National Weather Service...

Washington D.C. recorded two separate double digit two-day snowfalls in the same month for the first time ever.

Even more remarkable...was that the two-day double digit snowfalls from Feb 5-6 and Feb 9-10...of 10.8 inches...occurred so close together. This combined total of 28.6 inches that fell was the most snow ever in any contiguous 7-day period in Washington D.C. This one week 28.6 inch total beat the previous highest contiguous weekly snowfall total of 28.0 inches set in 1922...Jan 26 to Feb 1.

The February snow depth averaged 8 inches...which was the second highest average monthly snow depth ever...second only to the 10 inch monthly average snow depth observed in Feb 1899.

At least one inch or more of snow depth was observed for 21 days this month. The most number of days with snow depth of an inch or more was in February 1905...25 days...followed by 1895 with 23 days.

The February 2010 average monthly temperature was below normal but not excessively so...ranking as 34th coldest for February. However, daily maximum temperatures were persistently below normal...averaging 6.4F below normal. Max temperatures rose no higher than 50f during the entire month. Only one February in Washington has the daily max temperature failed to reach 50...1905...And this month was the first February since 1934 to only have a monthly max of 50. The daily average min temperature was 1.4f below normal.


Three separate snow events during the first ten days of the month dropped 49.5 inches. With an additional half inch of snowfall for the rest of the month...The February 2010 monthly total snowfall of 50.0 inches sets the record for all-time snowiest month ever in Baltimore...breaking the record 40.5 inch total from February 2003.

Baltimore recorded two separate two-day double digit snowfalls in the same month for the first time ever.

The two-day snowfall totals of 25 inches on 5-6 Feb and 19.5 inches on Feb 9-10 were the second and ninth highest two-day snowfall totals...respectively...recorded in Baltimore.

The Feb 5-6 and 9-10 snow totals were even more remarkable as they occurred so close together...In less than one week. Their combined 44.5 inches of snowfall during this time period of just less than one week was the most snow ever to fall in any 7-day contiguous period in Baltimore...beating the previously highest weekly snowfall total of 32.6 inches in Jan 6-12 in 1996.

The daily 7am climatological snow depth of 34 inches reported on the 11th was the record highest climatological snow depth ever reported in Baltimore.

The February snow depth averaged 11 inches. This was the highest average monthly snow depth on record. The previous highest snow depth average for the month was 7 inches in Jan 1996.

Dulles Airport

Three snow events that occurred during the first ten days of the month dropped 45.7 inches on Dulles. While only an additional 0.4 inches of snow was measured after the added to the all-time snowiest month recorded in Dulles history. The previous snowiest month was Feb 2003 when 34.9 inches of snow was measured.

A two-day snowfall total of 32.4 inches on Feb 5-6 was the highest two-day snowfall total for Dulles...smashing the previous record of 23.2 inches of snow on Jan 7-8 1996. The two-day double digit snowfalls from Feb 5-6 and the 9.3 inches on Feb 9-10 were remarkable to occur so close together. The combined 41.7 inches of snow that fell during this time was the most ever snow in a one week period at Dulles...beating the previous highest weekly snowfall total of 30.9 inches from Jan 6-12 1996.

The daily 7 a.m. climatological snow depth of 26 inches reported on the 10th is the record highest climatological snow depth ever reported at Dulles.

The snow depth average of 10 inches for this Feb was the highest average monthly snow depth on record. The previous highest snow depth average for the month was 7 inches in Jan 1996.

At least one inch of snow was on the ground 25 days this Feb...which was the most number of days in any month having measurable snow depth of at least an inch of snow on the ground. An inch or more of Snow was measured on the ground for 26 consecutive days from Jan 31 to Feb 23...which was the longest such stretch on record.

The max temperature was not higher than 50F during the entire month for only the third time on record. The other months which did not record a temperature greater than 50F were Feb 1969 and Jan 1977.

By Jason Samenow  | March 11, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Local Climate, Snowmageddon  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Some clouds now, big rains Fri. into Sat.
Next: PM Update: Long-duration deluge starts tonight


CWG, thanks for all the great weather reporting! And thanks so much for these statistics. As a native washingtonian, this February was amazing. I love having all these stats in one place. Thanks for pulling this together!

Posted by: soleil2000 | March 11, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

soleil2000 - glad you got to read and..experience the amazing weather. I grew up here and live downtown now, for years. It was amazing wasn't it?! :)

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | March 11, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I hope the title is right, and this was a "once in a lifetime" occurrence.

I don't want to put up with this again.

Posted by: oldiesfan1 | March 11, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

One-in-a-lifetime snowstorms -- and yet many of the snow lovers on this blog were still begging for more.

It gives me the impression that some people would be happier living in the Midwest...

Posted by: stuckman | March 11, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

...actually the title is wrong - it currently reads "Once a in lifetime" - pesky words and numbers always falling out of place.

Posted by: manatt | March 11, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Great article.

@Manatt, Funny how the brain compensates. I didn't notice until you pointed it out. "Pesky words..." LOL!

Anyone else getting spring fever today? Man, with a rainy weekend coming up, this sure would be the day to get outside and enjoy!

Posted by: dprats21 | March 11, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

From Jan 30 to Feb 10 which is a 12-day period I recorded the following for NW DC I recorded nearly 54 inches of snow. This includes the 6 inch snow on Jan 30 and the 5 inch snow on Feb 2-3, as well as the 27.5 inches on Feb 5-6 and the 15.5 inches on Feb 9-10.

I have never seen 4.5 feet of snow in less than two weeks and probably never will again unless I go to the mountains.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 11, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The 54 inches does not even include the 20 inches that fell back in December. The total winter snowfall for NW DC was over 6 feet of snow or nearly 75 inches.

Posted by: ajmupitt | March 11, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

47 inches fell from Jan 31 to Feb 10 here in Southern Loudoun - that is all.

The very last non-plowed snow pile is on its last gasp today in my backyard which doesnt see the sun until April...good bye snow. Good bye. What a winter. I put nothing on the long range GFS. I dare it to snow at the end of the month...(grinning).

Posted by: DullesARC | March 11, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

And here is but one example of the economic effect felt by nearby farmers as a result of the historic snowfall.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | March 11, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Nice recap. But I wish (a) we had broken the all-time monthly record in Feb. and (b) that DCA had reached 60".

And no, just because some of us like snow doesn't mean we should shuffle off to Buffalo, any more than people who like spring should relocate to San Diego.

This winter pretty much was a "once-in-a-lifetime" experience in this supposedly subtropical climate zone and ajmupitt's measurements are much closer to the reality most of us in this area experienced.

Posted by: JerryFloyd1 | March 11, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

oh, jesus, ThinkSpring....
we get it. you don't like snow. but, do you REALLY want to go there? - comparing the deaths and dollars cost of winter vs non-winter weather events? i don't want to keep bringing this up, but if you keep harping on how horrible snow is, i'll gladly keep correcting you. as i've repeatedly illustrated, winter is the CHEAP, SAFE time of the year.

those figures to which you linked seem pretty paltry considering the historic nature of this past winter. the non-winter analogue might be the 2005(? - katrina, rita etc...) hurricane season or one of those tornado seasons that totally, completely FLATTENS midwestern towns.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 11, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

It is stunning to see that with as much snow as we received in DC (even with DCA's reporting, um, issues), Baltimore got loads more.

Posted by: ah___ | March 11, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

If anyone is interested, I posted a time lapse photography video of the first blizzard on YouTube:

Posted by: forsheer | March 11, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

omg....thanks for was so gosh darn pretty.... sigh.... (and no flooding...)

you say the "first blizzard". was that the dec. 19/20 storm or the feb 5/6 one? (i'd guess 5/6 since it started with a bit of snow on the ground.) it's pretty cool that i'm confused about WHICH blizzard it was!

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 11, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Thanks walter-in-fallschurch. It was the first blizzard of 2010, e.g. the Feb. 5/6 blizzard. I should have been more clear.

Posted by: forsheer | March 11, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

I loved the storm. I still have snow. Do you still have snow in your yards?

Posted by: celestun100 | March 11, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

But the farmers benefit from the snow during next summer's dry weather as the result of enhanced groundwater from snowmelt.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 11, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

WOW! Hey, thanks for doing the comparison round-up for all three major locations CWG! This is exactly what I've been waiting for, ever since that detailed analysis of DCA was published on here. ;-)

Posted by: TheAnalyst | March 12, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

@celestun100, I have a wee patch of snow left in my front yard. I still remember only a couple of weeks ago, when I was walking on it with snowshoes, and it was still at least five feet high. Now when my Husky is taken outside for her business, she immediately darts to the tiny snow patch to go upon lol. She was on top of a tiny snow pile the other night too, with all four of her paws nearly touching together while she stood there all happy :-D Oh man, she's going to miss it the most (At least she loves flowers though, sort of like Bambi and all).

Posted by: TheAnalyst | March 12, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

celestun100 you asked,
"Do you still have snow in your yards?"

not a bit. :-(

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 12, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

Gee, thanks Walter for acting like a complete tool yet again.

A) That was but one example of the economic impact the winter blizzards had. There are more.

B) I'm sorry these FACTS don't fit into your Norman Rockwell portrait of the snow.

Get over it, dude.

Posted by: ThinkSpring | March 12, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

a few FACTS:

they barely even mention snow. michigan (150" of snow annually in some parts) is considered the "safest" state.... rain costs americans WAY WAY more than snow. please don't pretend your dislike of snow has anything to do with concern for others. were that the case you would hate thunderstorms....which i understand you "love".

as you have taken it upon yourself to "rain on" every "i like snow" discussion with whining about the cost and danger and inconvenience of snow, well, i've taken it upon myself to correct you. snow is a safe, cheap weather event - that's just a fact.

the recent winter storms were massive HISTORIC events and yet they still don't approach the damage done in an AVERAGE year by thunderstorms.

you said,
"That was but one example of the economic impact the winter blizzards had. There are more."

please, show me "more". but before you do, you might want to compare those costs with those listed in the links i provided above.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 12, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Eagerly anticipating 2017, our next shot at getting anything remotely close to the snow we got this winter. Recent trend seems that snowy winters like this come once every 7 years. So 7 is our lucky number either way you look at it. For snow lovers, we get to enjoy this type of winter once every 7 years. For the rest, 7 years of relatively little snowfall.

Posted by: crazer | March 13, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

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