From the ABC 7 Weather team

Washington’s Veterans Day snowstorm 25 year anniversary

November 11, 2012 - 05:08 PM
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Hard to believe after today’s warm Veterans Day that 25 years ago the District was caught in a record-breaking snowstorm that snarled traffic and brought the nation’s capital to a standstill.

Many natives to the Washington and Baltimore area probably won’t ever forget the weather on Veterans Day in 1987. What was thought to be a storm that would bring rain and snow mix ended up dumping record amounts of snow across the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington to Baltimore.

The days leading up to Veterans Day 25 years ago were highlighted by very warm weather. Temperatures reached into the 60s and even lower 70s. Folks were enjoying the weather by walking and running outside even the day before the storm hit. High pressure off the Mid-Atlantic Coast was bringing a warm southwest wind to help boost these readings well-above average.

Low pressure was taking shape in the Lower Mississippi Valley on November 10, 1987. Ahead of this northeast moving low, rain developed in the nation’s capital late on that day and continued for a time overnight. The next thing that happened surprised all of the forecasters at the time. The low deepened off the coast and a northeast fetch chilled temperatures just enough under the bull’s eye of rain in the heart of the District and north to Baltimore to change rain to snow.


Archived weather maps leading up to the Veterans Day snowstorm and the day of the storm.


The snow continued heavy at times through Veterans Day before winding down. By the time it was over, 11.5 inches accumulated at Reagan National Airport with 13 inches in Prince George’s County and 6 inches in Baltimore.


Here are the records set in Washington from the Veterans Day Winter Storm in 1987: 
♦Greatest November snow total from a single storm 
♦ Greatest 24-hour November snowfall 
♦Greatest November snowfall total 
♦Greatest amount of snow for November 11th

In Baltimore, the 6 inches that fell set the daily snowfall record for November 11th.

Veterans Day services during the snowstorm at Arlington, Virginia, November 11, 1987.


People were caught offguard by the storm and there were so many stranded cars on the Capitol Beltway that snow plows could not get through to open the clogged arteries. Cars were stranded on the Beltway for more than 24 hours.

It’s amazing to think this storm produced almost 75% of Washington’s typical yearly snowfall (or average yearly snowfall) and only 30% of Baltimore’s average yearly snowfall. Still, the weather 25 years ago today was a far cry from the 71 degrees recorded today at Reagan National, which incidentally was only 8 degrees shy of the record high for the day!

Doug Hill recalls that storm in this blog from last year. 

Have a wonderful Veterans Day (the observed holiday is Monday) and be sure to check out our website, ABC7 news and WTOP Radio for the latest weather forecast.









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