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George BM

Christmas 1993 DMV area Snow squall

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I've been very curious to learn more about what kind of weather conditions, atmospheric dynamics, etc. existed on Christmas 1993 and how the event compared with other snow squalls such as the one Feb. 14, 2015? I hear there was a good bit of thunder with the Christmas 93 squall. What are your memories from it?

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I don't remember this event at all, but the snow records reveal that only 0.2 inches were recorded at DCA and 0.9 inches at IAD.  The thunder snow event that I can still remember vividly occurred on March 8, 1984, when 1.5 inches of snow were recorded at DCA and 4.7 inches at IAD.  I was driving a van pool home from work in DC to Reston, VA, about 5 PM (this was a Thursday), when I heard a loud clap of thunder on the Whitehurst Freeway.  The temperature then dropped like a rock, and when I got to the Dulles Access Road (there was no toll road back then) it was a sheet of ice.  Driving home on that road that evening was the scariest thing I have ever done in a vehicle, as all kinds of vehicles, including a number of buses, had spun out.  Fortunately, I made it to Reston in one piece, and I can still remember how relieved I was. 

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Sometimes magic happens on Christmas...not the last two years but we are due.  Maybe this year.  Just got to get through what might be a hot steamy summer and warm fall.  

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Oh, the magic of this event. We were having Christmas dinner at a relative's house in Rockville. Before leaving for the dinner I noticed that flurries were in the forecast. After the dinner while everyone else was still chatting, I ducked out from the dining room and went to the front door hoping I could see some flurries in the air. Opening the door, the shocking sight was that the driveway was already covered while heavy snow was falling. 

I informed everyone else that the ground was covered and we all left in a hurry (because of course DC area folk freak out about driving in the snow). On the drive back on secondary streets, we saw multiple rear-wheel drive vehicles on the side of the roads not able to make it throug the icy roads. 

Once we got home, the snow was winding down. 1.5" of surprise snow had fallen. My dad and I decided to kick around a soccer ball out in the snow; I convinced him to do so because I just wanted to be out in the first event of 93/94.

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I could only remember snow on Christmas Day three times: 2010, 2002 and sometime in the early 90's. This has to the one. I knew it had to be around 1993 or so because we had just moved into the new townhouse. Not sure if it was even forecast because I remember my mom looking out the window and being shocked that it was snowing and laying.

Looking at BWI records, that whole Holiday week sounds nice- impressive sustained cold and multiple snow events.:

Dec. 24: HI: 36 LO: 21 SN: T

Dec. 25: HI: 36 LO: 22 SN: 0.6

Dec. 26: HI: 30 LO: 18 SN: T

Dec. 27: HI: 23 LO: 18 SN: T

Dec. 28: HI: 24 LO: 21 SN: 2.0

Dec. 29: HI: 27 LO 19 SN: 0.3

Dec. 30: HI: 28 LO: 15 SN: T

Dec. 31: HI: 35 LO: 9 SN: 0

I don't remember that Christmas week but that's amazing- I guess it got overshadowed by the ice storms the following January and February. I'd give anything to have a Holiday week like that now! So tired of crappy Decembers here nowadays.

This is a great topic, I love discussing old storms and periods like this. I wish more people would. Thanks for bringing me down memory lane!

 

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22 hours ago, RodneyS said:

I don't remember this event at all, but the snow records reveal that only 0.2 inches were recorded at DCA and 0.9 inches at IAD.  The thunder snow event that I can still remember vividly occurred on March 8, 1984, when 1.5 inches of snow were recorded at DCA and 4.7 inches at IAD.  I was driving a van pool home from work in DC to Reston, VA, about 5 PM (this was a Thursday), when I heard a loud clap of thunder on the Whitehurst Freeway.  The temperature then dropped like a rock, and when I got to the Dulles Access Road (there was no toll road back then) it was a sheet of ice.  Driving home on that road that evening was the scariest thing I have ever done in a vehicle, as all kinds of vehicles, including a number of buses, had spun out.  Fortunately, I made it to Reston in one piece, and I can still remember how relieved I was. 

Very cool story. Glad you were safe. 

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22 hours ago, BristowWx said:

Sometimes magic happens on Christmas...not the last two years but we are due.  Maybe this year.  Just got to get through what might be a hot steamy summer and warm fall.  

As long as there is any kind of big storm (severe thunderstorms or tropical systems) in that time period I'll be fine B). My moto: Go big or go home. 

 

 

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11 hours ago, PrinceFrederickWx said:

I could only remember snow on Christmas Day three times: 2010, 2002 and sometime in the early 90's. This has to the one. I knew it had to be around 1993 or so because we had just moved into the new townhouse. Not sure if it was even forecast because I remember my mom looking out the window and being shocked that it was snowing and laying.

Looking at BWI records, that whole Holiday week sounds nice- impressive sustained cold and multiple snow events.:

Dec. 24: HI: 36 LO: 21 SN: T

Dec. 25: HI: 36 LO: 22 SN: 0.6

Dec. 26: HI: 30 LO: 18 SN: T

Dec. 27: HI: 23 LO: 18 SN: T

Dec. 28: HI: 24 LO: 21 SN: 2.0

Dec. 29: HI: 27 LO 19 SN: 0.3

Dec. 30: HI: 28 LO: 15 SN: T

Dec. 31: HI: 35 LO: 9 SN: 0

I don't remember that Christmas week but that's amazing- I guess it got overshadowed by the ice storms the following January and February. I'd give anything to have a Holiday week like that now! So tired of crappy Decembers here nowadays.

This is a great topic, I love discussing old storms and periods like this. I wish more people would. Thanks for bringing me down memory lane!

 

Well no problem. I really enjoy hearing different peoples views and experiences of past notable weather events.  

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8 hours ago, George BM said:

Wow! Thank you for all the replies guys. Does any of you remember hearing thunder or seeing lightning during that Christmas event?

I honestly don't remember thunder or lightning.  However, I was over at my Aunt's house in Randallstown that evening.  The forecast was for some flurries.  After dinner, I noticed that the "flurries" were actually starting to accumulate on all surfaces.  The snow intensity then really picked up and the roads became treacherous.  I wouldn't be surprised if some areas did experience thunder/lightning as the snowfall was quite convective in nature.   I wound up having to spend the night at my Aunt's house.  Even the 5 mile drive home the next morning was very dicey.  It was a nice (but unexpected) Christmas surprise------2-3 inch type deal.

 

MDstorm

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I remember this event very well.  I was driving home from Annapolis to Eldersburg (Carroll County) Maryland.  I was just leaving Annapolis when the line went threw.  When I got to the Baltimore Beltway... it was accident after accident.  I even witnessed a 4x4 making a hard right and just going off the road and over the embankment.  Interstate 70 was a sheet of ice.  You could not go more than 5 miles per hour and even then there was a chance of hitting the car in front of you.  Everyone was on the shoulders driving so they could pull off if needed.  Once I got the route 32... it was more or less snow covered and much easier to drive on.  It took me 3 hours to get from Annapolis to Eldersburg.

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I do remember one bolt of lightning when I was on the beltway near Tysons.  Like others have mentioned, I left (my grandmothers house in Potomac) when I saw the snow starting to stick headed towards my place in Silver Spring.  I don't ever remember seeing more than 1/2" of snow but the flash freeze of all the roads was remarkable.  I was in a Ford F150 rear wheel drive work truck with nothing in the bed so it was nearly useless (which sucked because I had an Audi 4000 CS Quattro sitting at home, I don't know why I chose to drive that stupid truck).  When I got to the beltway at River Road, northbound was closed and cops were funneling all south and telling them to catch the Clara Barton Parkway to Glen Echo to get into Bethesda or Silver Spring.  Unfortunately, every on and off ramp was closed with cops and stranded cars with the cops continuing to push everyone south.  I eventually made it to 66 then cut up across Chain Bridge back into Maryland.  It took me 4.5 hours.  All the roads were a mess with cars littered everywhere.  The roads were so slick that the simple camber of the roadway or the bank of a turn on the beltway would make the hapless F150's bed start to slide "downhill", even at  a full stop.  For vast parts of the "drive", I walked alongside the truck holding the back end straight with my girlfriend (now wife!) driving at like 2mph.  People were certainly ending up in ditches but many more just put their cars in park, turned them off, left them in the middle of the road and walked to the nearest exit.  We inched on like that until we came across a lady standing outside of her Subaru Forrester crying her eyes out. My girlfriend got in her car and drove it to the next exit.  Unsurprisingly, there were no VA cops at any of the on or off ramps keeping people from entering the beltway. 

The hill on the Virginia side to get down to Chain Bridge is pretty steep.  Interesting thing was, there were no cars on the road because 100% of them had slid off into the ditch on each side of the road.  I got down the hill by keeping the truck in reverse and slightly hitting the gas to straighten up the back as I crept forward down the hill.  I don't think that's a sanctioned SCCA driving style.  This event was one of the key deciding factors that confirmed my decision to always buy all-wheel drive cars and dedicated snow tires for the winter.  The few Audi's and Subaru's that had snow tires that I saw were the cars that, while had to be careful, were still mobile and could stop.  That, and one AMC Eagle with some dude inside with a massive grin on his face probably thinking "who's gonna call my car ugly now???".

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1 hour ago, das said:

I do remember one bolt of lightning when I was on the beltway near Tysons.  Like others have mentioned, I left (my grandmothers house in Potomac) when I saw the snow starting to stick headed towards my place in Silver Spring.  I don't ever remember seeing more than 1/2" of snow but the flash freeze of all the roads was remarkable.  I was in a Ford F150 rear wheel drive work truck with nothing in the bed so it was nearly useless (which sucked because I had an Audi 4000 CS Quattro sitting at home, I don't know why I chose to drive that stupid truck).  When I got to the beltway at River Road, northbound was closed and cops were funneling all south and telling them to catch the Clara Barton Parkway to Glen Echo to get into Bethesda or Silver Spring.  Unfortunately, every on and off ramp was closed with cops and stranded cars with the cops continuing to push everyone south.  I eventually made it to 66 then cut up across Chain Bridge back into Maryland.  It took me 4.5 hours.  All the roads were a mess with cars littered everywhere.  The roads were so slick that the simple camber of the roadway or the bank of a turn on the beltway would make the hapless F150's bed start to slide "downhill", even at  a full stop.  For vast parts of the "drive", I walked alongside the truck holding the back end straight with my girlfriend (now wife!) driving at like 2mph.  People were certainly ending up in ditches but many more just put their cars in park, turned them off, left them in the middle of the road and walked to the nearest exit.  We inched on like that until we came across a lady standing outside of her Subaru Forrester crying her eyes out. My girlfriend got in her car and drove it to the next exit.  Unsurprisingly, there were no VA cops at any of the on or off ramps keeping people from entering the beltway. 

The hill on the Virginia side to get down to Chain Bridge is pretty steep.  Interesting thing was, there were no cars on the road because 100% of them had slid off into the ditch on each side of the road.  I got down the hill by keeping the truck in reverse and slightly hitting the gas to straighten up the back as I crept forward down the hill.  I don't think that's a sanctioned SCCA driving style.  This event was one of the key deciding factors that confirmed my decision to always buy all-wheel drive cars and dedicated snow tires for the winter.  The few Audi's and Subaru's that had snow tires that I saw were the cars that, while had to be careful, were still mobile and could stop.  That, and one AMC Eagle with some dude inside with a massive grin on his face probably thinking "who's gonna call my car ugly now???".

.......Winter DMV style.

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Das has quite a story there.

I remember the night, but to keep it short, I'll just say I drove from Burke to Laurel with the same flash-freeze (and traffic) conditions others have described. Luckily, the kids had either left early or stayed the night. I considered giving up like so many hundreds of other cars littering the roadside, but decided that if we were going to spend the night in the car,we might as well drive it. I was younger then and helped push many dozens of cars up hills. By the time we finally crossed the Potomac on the Beltway, it was late and traffic was thinner and MdSHA had salted the road. No problems after that. (No salt in VA.)

I had left my F150 home and was in an old VW rabbit which made very good traction. However, the alternator on the old girl decided to go bad, so I drove many miles with no headlights on. I guess that there are lots of other drivers who's tale of woe end with this line: "and beside all that, there was some idiot in a VW driving with his lights off!" Fortunately, by that time, the moon was so bright that no lights were needed.

Oh, and a bit like Das, I started carrying tire chains in the truck after that, knowing that if we had not chosen the VW that night, we never would've made it.

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Drove my then girlfriend from Columbia to White Oak right after the thump and 29 was a sheet of ice. Especially on the hill heading down from the putt-putt course to Rocky Gotge and the HoCo Moco line. Cars were at different angles all over the road, but my Nissan Pulsar did fine in first gear without me touching the brakes.

The memory of the drive is etched in my memory, but until I saw this thread, my mind had somehow made this a Thanksgiving event.

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