With the mild and snowless winter we’ve had to date, it’s difficult to fathom we have arrived at the 16-year anniversary of the Blizzard of 1996! The storm paralyzed the region with upwards of 3 feet blanketing the region!
The high temperature at Reagan National skyrocketed to a steamy early January reading of 68 degrees on Saturday, January 7th, but didn’t quite make it to the record of 76 degrees set back in 1907. While we were basking in the sun yesterday, it’s hard to imagine we were at the brink of a crippling snow just 16 years ago on this date!
Known as the “Blizzard of ‘96” or the “Great Furlough Storm” that began on Sunday, January 7, 1996 and ended on January 13, 1996, the Washington area was buried under 17 to 21 inches of snow. The hardest hit areas were adjacent to the Blue Ridge where Frederick and Washington counties in Maryland and Loudoun County, Va., got crushed with 30 to 36 inches! Specifically, Reagan National had the most snow ever for January 7th, registering 13.0 inches for the day. Baltimore recorded over 22 inches and Ocean City even got 10 inches! Outside of the Washington-Baltimore Region, Frostburg and Grantsville, Md., got 33 inches with up to 48 inches near Snowshoe, W.Va.
As if that storm wasn’t enough, following the major Nor’easter, a low pressure swinging south from Alberta, Canada (known as an Alberta Clipper) blasted through Tuesday, January 9th dumping an additional 3 to 5 inches from Washington to Baltimore. The winter storm weary District got pummeled yet again on Friday, January 12th with another 4 to 6 inches of snow while heavier amounts of a foot fell in Frederick County, Md. When you tally up the storm damage from that week in 1996, 2 to 3 feet of fresh powder had fallen!
It was also known as the “Great Furlough Storm” because many federal employees were on furlough with government offices shut down for almost a month. Employees were slated to return on Monday, January 8th, but because of the storm, the Federal Government remained shut down. Not only for Monday, but for four days that week the government was shut down and just a week following winter break, schools got yet another nice vacation thanks to Mother Nature.
All in all during the 1995-1996 winter season, Reagan National accumulated 46.0 inches of snow; 31 inches above average and the second snowiest winter behind the 2009-2010 winter when 56.1 inches fell!