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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 03/ 8/2010

Snow Pile Watch 2010

By Kevin Ambrose

* Sunny & 60, then showery: Our Full Forecast | CWG T-Shirts *

This weekend, I returned to photograph Mount Home Depot in Fairfax, three weeks after I photographed it for a Feb. 17 post on snow piles. I was surprised to see the snow was almost gone. Did it melt or was it hauled away by Home Depot contractors to make room for more parking spaces?

Below are the results of our Feb. 17 poll asking when our region's last snow pile will melt?

* By March 1 - 2%
* By March 15 - 18%
* By April 1 - 30%
* By April 15 - 20%
* After April 15 - 27%

While above-freezing temperatures and sometimes sunny skies have been gradually melting over the past few weeks, most parking lots and road shoulders continue to have fairly large mounds of snow. In some parking lots, however, the snow piles have almost completely disappeared as maintenance crews have hauled away the snow or consolidated the piles into distant corners of their property. I'm guessing that's what happened to the large snow piles that were located the Fairfax Home Depot parking lot, as depicted in the Feb. 13 and March 6 photos above.

Keep reading for more on tracking our area's snow piles.

Snow piles at the Maple Avenue Shopping Center in Vienna, Va., on March 5, 2010.

We've had a rather slow snow melt in the Washington area since our recent historic snowstorms that buried the region last month. This is in contrast to the rapid snow melt that occurred after our historic snowstorms of 1979, 1983 and 1996. Often, damaging flooding accompanies rapid snow melt, which we experienced in 1996. Even last December, we had a mild rain storm on Christmas night that melted most of our record-breaking December snowfall. Since our back-to-back blizzards in February, the snow has lingered. Many of the Washington suburbs maintained snow cover for the entire month of February, which is extremely rare for our area.

Let us know where other large snow piles are located in the Washington area. We'll track the melting and put together a future post.

Snow piles have been consolidated into a back parking lot at Fair Oaks Mall, photographed March 6, 2010.

A shrub was plowed up with the snow at Fair Oaks Mall. The snow was so deep in February that it was hard to tell where the parking lot ended and the landscaping began.

Snow piles in the Saint Mark's Catholic Church parking lot in Oakton, Va., on March 6, 2010.

By Kevin Ambrose  | March 8, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Photography  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Sun & sixty early week, then showery
Next: Polar opposite positions on snow


Well, might as well repost the link to the snow pics I got Sunday:

Some of these are of snow piles, some just of snow lingering.

Posted by: wiredog | March 8, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Arlington County dumped a lot of snow in the parking lot of Quincy Park off of Washington Boulevard. The pile is still at least 10 feet high.

Posted by: techmen | March 8, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Question to photographers. Some people are complaining about the shallow depth of field in this shot:

When did shallow depth of field become a bad thing?

Posted by: wiredog | March 8, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Nice photographs.

Posted by: celestun100 | March 8, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

There is still a ridiculously huge snow pile outside of the Huntington Metro parking garage. I'll try to get a picture of it this evening, but I think it could still be there until May.

Posted by: Melewen | March 8, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

In two parking lots on Eisenhower Ave in Alexandria (on your right as you go toward Van Dorn) about 1/8 mile before the Metro station), there are mammoth piles. I think April 1 at least.

Posted by: egengle | March 8, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The snow in the last shot is surprisingly clean. ;) The only snow left in the city is extremely gross.. I can only hope it's all gone after this week.

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | March 8, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

There are a few huge piles on the north/northeast corners of parking garages that still may be around in May. Some of these are up to 20-30 ft. high! The one I know about is below the north side of the parking garage of the Goodwin House Baileys Crossroads and is in a shaded locale.

There's also a huge snow pile at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston which could be as high as 30 or 40 feet high. However this pile is on the wrong [south] side of the Iceplex, so the sun may melt it all this month. Too bad they can't bring in the snow to resurface the rink.

But this once again reminds me of the prevailing Ice Age theory of my youth. Heavy winter snows don't completely melt during cool summers, and continue to build into continental glaciers which proceed to move south. The last big glaciation was the Wisconsin Glaciation. Could the next Ice Age be the Virginia, Carolina or Tennessee Glaciation? Al Gore need not worry and D.C. snow lovers will have the whole year in which to "think snow"! It will be interesting to see the walruses of Chincoteague and the polar bears of the Outer Banks, as Arctic foxes prowl and snow geese nest on the Grand Strand.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 8, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Check out the snow canyons at Bluemont Park off of 50 between Glebe and 7 corners. Didn't get pictures but piles must be 10 foot high, with a machine-made canyon to provide access along the driveway.

Posted by: rubysoccer1 | March 8, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I definitely see evidence of urban heat island effect...we have very few snow piles left at all in downtown DC. On both ends: snowfall was slightly less downtown, then we have refused to get below freezing recently.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | March 8, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Here in McLean there are still patches of snow in shady areas...not talking about piles, but just persisting areas on north facing lawns where the snow has not melted.

There are several large piles in the local shopping center that are still over 6 feet high.

Posted by: dcawx | March 8, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Snow piles are melting faster than I thought they would,even in the sun. Even the snow that stays in the shade behind our house has shrunk considerably. The faster it goes, the HAPPIER I AM! It was great getting out and working in the yard this weekend. Awesome weather, to bad I have to work!

Posted by: soyboy99 | March 8, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse


I know the pile you are talking about. It's massive and also in shade almost all day. I think it may make it to April if we don't get a deluge of rain this month.

Posted by: bdeco | March 8, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

wiredog: Regarding your question on depth of field, shooting a photo where the foreground of a photo is in focus and the background of the photo is blurred is a common practice. It's often a matter of personal preference, but I think it is common to have the foreground in crisp focus and the background of the photo extremely blurred. If the background is only slightly blurred, it doesn't have the same impact. That's only my opinion, other photographers have different tactics and opinions.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | March 8, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Camden, I definitely saw the difference between the suburbs and the city with the rate of losing snowpack and snow piles. My kid's sledding hill in Oakton was still 95% snow covered Saturday and we went sledding Saturday night. I took a trip to DC Thursday and only saw small snow piles around the Mall. I think shade from trees and colder temperatures, particularly at night, help the suburbs.

Posted by: Kevin-CapitalWeatherGang | March 8, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

The pile at Goddard Space Flight Center is still 15 feet high in spots and the length of a football field. That's the one I expect to still have remains come Tax Day.

Posted by: kevinwparker | March 9, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

IF you want to see some snow piles, take a look at the back parking lot of No Va Community College - Annandale Campus.
We sacrificed two smaller lot areas for snow storage. Those will be there well in to April because we blew the budget for snow removal and the money that is left is going to have to go in to road repairs.

Posted by: grobinette | March 9, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

There is considerable damage to asphalt curbing along state routes in upper Montgomery and Frederick Counties. Apparently caused by snow plows that could not tell where the road ended and the curb began. Also a tremendous amount of tree damage that has not been cleaned up.

Posted by: MKadyman | March 9, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

any of that goddard pile in the shade?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 9, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

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