D.C. has been known for snow in February but none was more epic than the big Presidents' Day storm of 2003.
Presidents' Day weekend is a time for many folks to relax for a three-day weekend and escape town. However, it's also a notorious time climatologically for big time East Coast snowstorms. Two particular winter storms on this holiday weekend helped smash snow records in the nation's capital.
One such storm occurred on February 18-19, 1979. Coined "The President's Day Storm:, this was a southern-tracking storm brought heavy snow to the Nation’s Capital.
Farmers that had already brought in equipment such as huge tractors to protest higher agriculture prices assisted with cleanup efforts following the storm. Both days of the storm set snowfall records. in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
|February 18-19, 1979||Daily Snowfall Records Established|
|Reagan National:||(Day 1: 14.7 inches) (Day 2: 14.0 inches)|
|Dulles Int’l:||(Day 1: 2.5 inches) (Day 2: 13.8 inches)|
|BWI Marshal:||(Day 2: 16.4 inches)|
This storm was the worst to strike the District in more than 50 years. Totals ranged up to 20 inches in northern Virginia and Maryland with snowfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour. Food for thought... one hour in that storm produced more snow than the seasonal total so far this winter at Reagan National, which is 1.5 inches!). Temperatures hovered in the single digits and teens with four deaths reported in Virginia and 18 deaths from people falling on ice.
This wasn’t the only winter storm on memory for this particular weekend. The Presidents' Day weekend in 2003 featured a southern storm that began in Oklahoma and made its track to the North Carolina Coast.
By the time the snow ended on President’s Day (February 17, 2003), Reagan National was blasted with 26.8 inches, BWI Marshal accumulated 26.8 inches while Dulles had 21.7 inches. Schools already off on Monday enjoyed the rest of the week off for snow removal.
Car buried in snow near College Park, Md., after the Presidents' Day Blizzard of 2003. Photo courtesy of Andy Weiss.
To recap, two of the top 10 3-day snowfalls in Washington occurred on Presidents' Day weekend in the past.
While a slushy inch could fall early this weekend, snowfall the last few years in Washington has been scarce on Presidents' Day weekend.
Past Presidents' Day weekend weather in Washington (dating back to 2008):
February 18-20, 2012: Light rain with a Trace of snow.
Feburary 19-21, 2011: A bit of rain changing to snow with 0.2 inch at Reagan National Airport on President's day itself.
February 13-15, 2010: Chilly with 0.1 inch of snow on President's Day itself.
February 14-16, 2009: Seasonal temperatures with a Trace of rain.
February 16-18, 2008: Warm with rain. Highs ranged from 47-74 degrees with almost one-quarter inch of rain.