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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 04/ 1/2010

DCA's snow totals may get adjusted higher

By Kevin Ambrose

* Fantastic weather through weekend: Full Forecast *


For many years, Reagan National Airport's snow totals have been questioned and often criticized for under-representing the Washington area. National Airport, located in Arlington, Va., is Washington's official weather station and frequently reports lower accumulations than locations in the District proper and the surrounding suburbs.

Now, we have a rather surprising announcement that should delight area snow-lovers and weather-watchers, but is drawing widespread criticism from other circles: Reagan National's snowfall numbers are under review and may be adjusted higher to account for the impact of jet activity.

Videos from this past winter show that engines from large, commercial airliners that taxi near the airport's snow measuring location have both disturbed and compromised the snow measurements at National Airport. According to Miller A. Sturm, spokesperson for NAWA (National Airport Weather Administration), the heated exhausts from the jet engines have not only displaced some of the snow being measured, but in some cases may have caused a slight degree of melting, and this has probably occurred for many years.

Keep reading for the solution that may set new records in Washington...

An airplane taxiing amidst a snowy Reagan National Airport. Image courtesy Department of Homeland Security.

To compensate for the lost snow, Sturm plans to introduce a snow multiplier that would be applied to all snowfall totals at National Airport going back to 1996. "We have proposed a multiplier of 1.6 for National Airport's snowfall totals because when 1.6 is multiplied to last February's Snowmageddon storm, we get a new snow amount of 28.5 inches," explains Sturm. "That number will allow us to finally beat the Knickerbocker Snowstorm of 1922. I have to say, I am so tired of hearing TV reporters drone on-and-on about the Knickerbocker Snowstorm every time it snows. Each winter is like a broken record. Now, we can all start talking about Snowmageddon 2010 when a big snow is in the forecast. At least everyone can remember that storm."

Sturm also noted a secondary motive for choosing a snow multiplier of 1.6. "When 1.6 is multiplied to National Airport's 2009-2010 seasonal snowfall total, we get a number that beats Baltimore's 2009-2010 snow total. Quite frankly, I'm sick of Baltimore always hogging the snow glory for the mid-Atlantic. Every year at the Airport Weather Conference, the BWI team acts so cocky with their bloated snowfall numbers and their new snowstorm records. With the new National Airport snow multiplier, the DCA weather team can finally hold our heads up high too."

Criticism and opposition quickly followed the announcement of DCA's snow multiplier. Brock Greenland, spokesperson for the BWI Weather Administration (BWIWA) responded, "This is absolutely ridiculous. Someone should revoke their AMS cards. Everyone knows BWI kicks snow butt when compared to DCA. What's next, are they gonna give the Redskins a point multiplier so they can beat the Ravens? I think not! Baltimore rules!"

The National Weather Service is also against the snow multiplier for National Airport. Their reason is based on budgetary constraints, however. "You have to understand that the NWS has created dozens of beautiful snowfall maps of the Washington, D.C., area during the past 20 years. Each map has a small, donut hole showing little or no snow directly on top of National Airport," said J.B. Metdog, NWS finance analyst. "We simply don't have the resources and manpower to go back into each and every snowfall map to fill in all of those donut holes. Let's leave National's snow totals alone and let us keep our little donut holes."

Another organization against the snow multiplier is S.A.D. (Snow At Dulles). Crystal Dendrite, spokesperson for S.A.D, says the focus shouldn't be on how to fix National Airport's sorry snow totals, but rather to move Washington's official weather station from National to Washington Dulles International Airport. "A snow multiplier is not the right answer for this dilemma. We need to immediately move D.C.'s reporting station to Washington Dulles International Airport. Washington Dulles better represents our area's weather conditions, topography and climate. But more importantly, Washington Dulles has 'Washington' in its title and, the last time I checked, Reagan National doesn't. It's critical to have 'Washington' in the title of our city's official reporting station, especially considering that both airports are really in Virginia, you know."

The most outspoken of all naysayers regarding the snow multiplier was Lee Nino, who heads the global warming activist group GWIRRPJGOI (Global Warming Is Really Real People Just Get Over It). Nino explains, "The snow multiplier is just another way to hide the effects of global warming. Low snowfall totals at National Airport are the result of global warming, not the jet engines. In the past, I've heard many other poor excuses, including the airport is located near sea level, the airport is part of an urban heat island, and the airport is surrounded by a river full of piping hot sewage waste water dumped from a nearby treatment plant. I can tell you all these are just lame excuses hiding the real reason behind DCA's low snowfall numbers -- global warming.

"As the earth begins to sizzle in the next few years and the snowfall at National Airport drops off to zero each and every winter, their cute little snow multiplier will stop working and then I'll have the last laugh. Baaaaaahahahaha! "

Even the Capital Weather Gang has voiced dissent over National Airport's new snow multiplier. "Over half of our blog's traffic and comments during the busy winter months come from readers who visit our site to complain about National Airport's pathetic snow totals," said CWG's chief, Jason Samenow. "If you take that away from us, our advertising revenue will plummet and some readers may actually go back to AccuWeather.

"Fortunately, we have a backup plan in case the snow multiplier comes to fruition. Next winter, we plan a daily feature on organic gardening. Who doesn't want to know the best weather for growing pesticide-free lettuce? This blog will be hopping by next December!"

Despite the overwhelming negative reaction, Sturm says the NAWA plans to implement the snow multiplier later this month. In fact, Sturm contacted us recently to explain he may tweak the number higher. "We just learned that there was a big snowstorm in 1772 called 'The Washington Jefferson Snowstorm' or 'The George Jefferson Snowstorm' or something like that. Anyway, it snowed 36" during that storm. If we change our snow multiplier to 2.1, then Snowmageddon beats out the 1772 storm. We'll show those Colonials they have nothing over us and our new math!"

So there you have it. In all likelihood, April 2010 will forever be remembered as the time when Washington's snow totals became foolish no more. Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York -- you better start looking to your south. D.C. and Reagan National Airport are back in the game!

By Kevin Ambrose  | April 1, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Satire  
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Next: PM Update: No joke, April off to very warm start


Hearing the squabbles, the "My snow is deeper than your snow" and the competitive, um, spirit of the different factions somehow brings to mind the famous adage "Don't eat yellow snow."

Also "Ha Ha April Fools"!

Posted by: amaranthpa | April 1, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

April Fool's?

Posted by: wadejg | April 1, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Um ... why not just move the official measuring location?

Posted by: AdmiralX | April 1, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Ha! Very well done. I was to the quote about setting the multiplier just to beat the Knickerbocker total when I realized.

Posted by: mhardy1 | April 1, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

As I posted some time back, DCA probably had aoa twenty inches or less in the Knickerbocker Storm. The 28-inch measurement comes from 34th and M, NW [Georgetown/Burleith].

Reagan National is to the southeast of town at a low elevation on the Potomac and often the rain/snow line is north and west of the airport; hence there's less snow. Temperatures are always milder at DCA than at IAD.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | April 1, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

This is a great April Fools--you guys totally had me going for the first couple of paragraphs!

Posted by: bachaney | April 1, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Brialliant April Fool's story!

Posted by: LCFC | April 1, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Gorgeous... I, too, was all the way down to 'we'll do just because I'm tired of hearing all that stuff' when I decided this *really can't* be for real... :)

First part does make sense... sigh... are we sure the jets aren't melting the snow? :)

Posted by: leesweet | April 1, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Man, you had me going with the jet heat melting the snow... and the snow multiplier... but caught on quickly after that.
I might read it again with my Starbucks Plenta in hand... :)

Posted by: MKoehl | April 1, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Well played Capital Weather, well played!

Posted by: Narrows | April 1, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Sounds great. I'm always annoyed whenever I do a Topeka search on DC snowstorms and the Knickerbocker always comes out on top.

Posted by: nlcaldwell | April 1, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

nlcaldwell, that made me chuckle. Funny stuff, Kevin!

Posted by: Ian-CapitalWeatherGang | April 1, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Very funny! :)

Posted by: Snowlover2 | April 1, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Quite amusing. I burst out laughing at the 1.6 multiplier because my snowfalls are usually 1.3 times greater than National Airport's. And nlcalwell's comment made laugh too.

Posted by: Murre | April 1, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Not at all convincing guys. When you named the spokesperson "Miller A" I knew it was b.s. You could have done better.

Posted by: MKadyman | April 1, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse


Yes...but what percentage of our readers do you think "get" the Miller A reference...???

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | April 1, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

of course, the word *washington* is actually in the name of ronald reagan washington national airport...

Posted by: IMGoph | April 3, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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