Capital Weather Gang: History


Posted at 01:20 PM ET, 03/13/2013

Knickerbocker Snowstorm short stories

There are dozens of Knickerbocker Snowstorm stories buried in the newspaper archives or passed down by word-of-mouth by Washington-area families. I have made an effort to gather and document many of the stories before they are lost or forgotten.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  01:20 PM ET, 03/13/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Local Climate

Posted at 12:07 PM ET, 03/13/2013

March 13 weather extremes: Blizzard of 1993 and 2012 80-degree heat (POLL)

Last year, it was 81 degrees in Washington, D.C. on March 13, in the midst of a heat wave that presaged the warmest March on record. But 20 years ago on the 13th, the Blizzard of 1993 socked the area.

By Jason Samenow  |  12:07 PM ET, 03/13/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Local Climate

Posted at 01:44 PM ET, 03/11/2013

The blizzard of 1993: 20-year anniversary of March Superstorm

Twenty years ago today, among the most intense cold season storms of the 20th century began to organize. The storm - which would dump crippling amounts of snow from Florida to Maine - resulted in over 300 fatalities and $9 billion in damages (2012 dollars). Known as the “Superstorm of 1993”, “The Blizzard of ‘93” and “Storm of the Century”, it is ranked as an “extreme” category 5 storm on NOAA’s Regional Snowfall Index (RSI) scale.

By Don Lipman  |  01:44 PM ET, 03/11/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Local Climate

Posted at 04:44 PM ET, 03/01/2013

Knickerbocker snowstorm presentation: Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 7:00 p.m. at The Washington Post

Come hear the riveting tale of one of Washington, D.C.’s most destructive weather events: the Knickerbocker Snowstorm of January, 1922.

By Jason Samenow  |  04:44 PM ET, 03/01/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Capital Weather Gang, History, Winter Storms

Posted at 09:40 AM ET, 02/12/2013

The Megalopolitan Blizzard of February 10-12, 1983

On February 11-12, 1983 a blizzard swept up the Eastern Seaboard, burying an area from Virginia to the Northeast U.S. under a blanket of very heavy snow.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  09:40 AM ET, 02/12/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Local Climate, Winter Storms, Latest

Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 01/28/2013

The Knickerbocker Snowstorm: Inside insights on D.C.’s deadliest disaster

On this date in 1922, 28 inches of snow piled up in Washington, D.C., an amount never since surpassed from a single storm. The weight of the snow caused the roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre - located in Adams Morgan - to collapse, killing 98 people and injuring 133.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:26 AM ET, 01/28/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Photography, History, Local Climate

Posted at 12:37 PM ET, 01/17/2013

Why today’s storm isn’t a big snow producer for Washington, D.C.

Today’s storm effects in D.C. will bear little resemblance to the paralyzing January 26, 2011 “Commutageddon” event and there are good meteorological reasons for it.

By Jason Samenow  |  12:37 PM ET, 01/17/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms, History

Posted at 11:26 AM ET, 01/16/2013

Washington, D.C. presidential inauguration weather history

What are typical weather conditions on Inauguration Day in the nation’s capital? And which years had the warmest, coldest, wettest or snowiest ceremonies?

By Justin Grieser  |  11:26 AM ET, 01/16/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest

Posted at 09:49 AM ET, 01/15/2013

Knickerbocker snowstorm: The final performance

The Knickerbocker Theater’s orchestra was playing when the theater’s roof collapsed under the weight of a record-breaking snowstorm. This is the tragic story of the orchestra’s final performance.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  09:49 AM ET, 01/15/2013 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 12/20/2012

The killer London smog event of December, 1952: a reminder of deadly smog events in U.S.

Sixty years ago this month (December), London was enveloped under a toxic mix of dense fog and sooty black smoke for four days. This episode of polluted air is among the deadliest environmental disasters in recorded history.

By Steve Tracton  |  10:30 AM ET, 12/20/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Environment

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 12/19/2012

Three year anniversary: Snowpocalypse of December 18-19, 2009

What did Washington D.C. look like three years ago? For the most part, it looked much the same as today except for one small matter: D.C. was buried under 16 to 24 inches of freshly fallen snow.

By Kathryn Prociv  |  10:30 AM ET, 12/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 12/05/2012

Washington’s Blimp Snowstorm of Dec. 4-5, 1921

Has anyone heard of Washington’s Blimp Snowstorm of 1921? It was the first snowstorm of the 1921-22 winter season, dropping 4.5” of snow as the Navy made its first blimp test with a newly discovered inflammable gas called helium.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  10:30 AM ET, 12/05/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Photography, History

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 11/19/2012

Does a cold November into December mean a cold winter? An extreme example of the opposite

Temperatures so far this month have averaged 4 degrees below average in Washington, D.C. year. Around this time of year, especially when cold weather occurs, we often hear people say something like, “If it’s this cold now, how much worse will the rest of the winter be?”

By Don Lipman  |  10:30 AM ET, 11/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Lipman, History

Posted at 11:18 AM ET, 10/10/2012

Knickerbocker snowstorm: The story of David H. Lyman, Jr. and his family

A mystery surrounding the grave of a 17 year-old boy in Congressional Cemetery, killed in the Knickerbocker Theater disaster, prompted me to undertake a long and fascinating research effort to find the boy’s family and uncover what happened to the boy and his family after the collapse of the theater’s roof.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  11:18 AM ET, 10/10/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, Winter Storms

Posted at 11:20 AM ET, 09/11/2012

9/11 weather: 2012 conditions closely resemble 2001

On the 11-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, today’s weather conditions bear remarkable similarity to those on that tragic day.

By Jason Samenow  |  11:20 AM ET, 09/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, History

Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 08/23/2012

Twenty years ago, soon-to-be Hurricane Andrew survived a near-death experience

What happened to 1992‘s first named storm?

By Jack Williams  |  02:15 PM ET, 08/23/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Capital Weather Gang, History, Tropical Weather

Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 07/26/2012

Your favorite Knickerbocker snowstorm photo?

I am currently working on a Knickerbocker Snowstorm book with Arcadia publishing for their “Images of America” series. I thought I’d poll the readers of the Capital Weather Gang to determine your favorite cover photo.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  01:30 PM ET, 07/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Winter Storms, Latest, Photography, History

Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 06/21/2012

Hurricane Agnes: A look back after 40 years

Just as the Watergate scandal was unfolding, residents of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast would have to deal with a tropical system that had formed over the Yucatan Peninsula on June 14th. That system, dubbed Agnes, would later cause some of the worst flooding ever recorded in the region’s, particularly Pennsylvania.

By Don Lipman  |  12:42 PM ET, 06/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Tropical Weather, Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 05/21/2012

A year after the Joplin tornado disaster

One year ago tomorrow, Joplin, Missouri was impacted by a most-feared EF-5 tornado with winds over 200 mph. When the early-evening storm was through, and skies began to clear, the devastation left behind by was brutally apparent. Joplin has recovered significantly, if irregularly, in the year that’s passed since the tornado.

By Ian Livingston  |  11:00 AM ET, 05/21/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, Recaps, Thunderstorms, U.S. Weather

Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 04/25/2012

Was Monday’s return to winter unusual? A history of snow in April in Washington, D.C.

Now that (some of us) have had our little flirtation with winter, I thought it might be interesting to compare the recent April nor’easter with Aprils past.

By Don Lipman  |  10:50 AM ET, 04/25/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 04/11/2012

The weather during the Titanic disaster: looking back 100 years

This week marks the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Thought to be almost unsinkable, the flagship of the White Star Line struck an iceberg and sank about 375 miles southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia—about the latitude of Providence, RI. As is well known, the much-storied disaster took the lives of about 1,500 passengers and crewmembers, almost two-thirds of the total complement of 2200. But what were the weather conditions preceding, at the time of, and following, the great disaster and did they contribute in any way to what happened, or how it happened?

By Don Lipman  |  10:36 AM ET, 04/11/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 02/06/2012

Snowmageddon from space two years ago

Two years ago, Snowmageddon, one of the D.C. area’s biggest snowstorms on record, finally came to a close in the late afternoon. That was after dumping a mind boggling 18-32” of snow over the course of about 30 hours. The storm shut the city down for days and is etched in the memories of all those who lived through it.

By Jason Samenow  |  10:15 AM ET, 02/06/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Snowmageddon, Winter Storms, History

Posted at 01:47 PM ET, 01/26/2012

Commutageddon: a year later, would the same fiasco repeat?

Exactly one year ago, a powerful winter storm walloped the region at just the wrong time, leading to one of Washington, D.C.’s worst ever evening commutes. A thunderstorm of sleet and then snow overwhelmed the region between 4 and 10 p.m., paralyzing traffic everywhere. Chances are good either you or someone you know waited until it was too late to leave your/their job, and got stuck on area roads for hours.

By Jason Samenow  |  01:47 PM ET, 01/26/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Winter Storms, Government

Posted at 10:46 AM ET, 01/19/2012

Washington D.C.’s top 5 surprise snowstorms

If we look back at past decades, a few of the surprise snowstorms were quite large. I have researched the storms and rank the top 5 surprise snowstorms that have struck Washington, D.C. plus an honorable mention.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  10:46 AM ET, 01/19/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Winter Storms, History, Local Climate

Posted at 01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012

Nome weather-related crisis averted, for second time in history

If you’ve followed the struggle by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy and the Russian tanker Renda to re-supply Nome, Alaska with badly needed fuel oil, you know that a crisis appears to have been averted. Ironically, exactly 87 years ago—in 1925--during a similar Alaskan January*, another crisis in Nome was narrowly averted—this one of a medical nature. It was called the “Great Race of Mercy,” the hastily arranged rescue operation to save Nome from a potential diphtheria epidemic.

By Don Lipman  |  01:49 PM ET, 01/18/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, U.S. Weather, Lipman

Posted at 04:55 AM ET, 01/13/2012

The 30 year anniversary of the crash of Air Florida Flight 90

The snowstorm of January 13, 1982 will always be remembered for the terrible crash of Air Florida Flight 90. The death toll was 78, making it Washington’s second worst weather-related disaster.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  04:55 AM ET, 01/13/2012 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, U.S. Weather, Local Climate

Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 12/30/2011

The snows of yesteryear; major winter storms of the 1700 and 1800s

As the winter unfolds, it appears (at this point) that it may not be particularly bountiful, snow-wise. That said, I thought some of the snow-lovers out there might be interested in a chronology of some our past—very distant past—December and January storms, as they affected the greater D.C. area.

By Don Lipman  |  11:15 AM ET, 12/30/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 10:53 AM ET, 12/19/2011

Two years ago: Washington, D.C. crippled by Snowpocalypse

What a difference two years makes. While today it’s sunny with a high near 50, on this date in 2009,Washington, D.C.’s biggest December snowfall on record paralyzed the region. In all, 16-24” fell.

By Jason Samenow  |  10:53 AM ET, 12/19/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate, History

Posted at 10:38 AM ET, 11/16/2011

Britain’s snow blitz: does it mean anything for the future, both there and here?

No doubt many of you have seen stories during the last few years about the repeated episodes of cold and snow in Western Europe-- and particularly Britain. Last December, some called it the snowiest winter in 25 years and the coldest in over 100 years. On average, Britain’s winter climate is mild and has been so for many decades, probably since the end of the “Little Ice Age” in the 1800s. So what’s going on? Is the Gulf Stream changing?

By Don Lipman  |  10:38 AM ET, 11/16/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Lipman, International Weather

Posted at 11:58 AM ET, 11/14/2011

What is Washington, D.C.’s weather like in November? Breaking down norms and extremes

As November progresses, it usually becomes unmistakable that winter is around the corner. The days are short and the landscape begins to turn barren. Cold intrusions become more of a norm than a rarity as well, and on some occasions that cold air combines with moisture to produce an early-season snowfall.

By Ian Livingston  |  11:58 AM ET, 11/14/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Climate, History, Latest

Posted at 02:05 PM ET, 11/11/2011

Wild rides: the 11/11/11 Great Blue Norther and the largest wave ever surfed

Look out when giant waves come crashing down. That’s what happened in Chicago 100 years ago when the temperature dropped from a record high of 74 to a frigid 16 in the same day (November 11, 1911). Even more stunning, Springfield nose-dived from 80 to 8 degrees, a precipitous 72 degree drop.

By Jason Samenow  |  02:05 PM ET, 11/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather, International Weather, History

Posted at 11:12 AM ET, 10/21/2011

When should the Washington, D.C. area expect to see its first freeze of the cold season?

As we head through fall, the first freeze of the season is assured in only a matter of time. But, when is that time? Well, it depends on where in the area you are located. For many places, especially north and west of downtown D.C., a freeze can be expected before October is out. As you head into lower elevations to the south and east of D.C., or those close to warmer water, the wait often goes through November. Some years, spots even make it to December without one!

By Ian Livingston, Justin Grieser and Katie Wheatley  |  11:12 AM ET, 10/21/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Climate, History, Latest

Posted at 11:02 AM ET, 10/19/2011

Franklin’s storm: How Benjamin Franklin discovered how storms move

In October, 1743, Franklin, who was probably one of the most “reasoned” people of his time, had a huge opportunity to put his reasoning skills to the test. On the night of October 21st of that year (November 1st by our current Gregorian calendar)--some 268 years ago--an event occurred which cast a whole new light on the movement and structure of storm systems in the Northern Hemisphere (and the world). Previously, it had always been thought that storms came from the same direction as their surface winds, so it came as a great surprise to Benjamin Franklin when, as a result of a simple astronomical observation and a twist of fate, that this was not the case.

By Don Lipman  |  11:02 AM ET, 10/19/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 10/05/2011

What is Washington, D.C.’s weather like in October? Breaking down norms and extremes

October and abundant sunshine often go hand in hand in the D.C. area, but the pattern is still a bit lazy compared to winter, so rains can come in heavy bouts over several days. When it comes to temperatures, averages are about as good as they get all year for some serious outdoor enjoyment! The shift toward colder weather is clearly evident though.

By Ian Livingston  |  01:30 PM ET, 10/05/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Climate, History, Latest

Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/23/2011

Rumblings within Indonesia’s Mount Tambora volcano: could eruption bring year without summer?

The eruption of the Mt. Tambora volcano in April 1815 was the largest and most deadly volcanic eruption in recorded history. Its sunlight dimming particles caused a major cooling in the global climate that led to1816’s “Year Without a Summer”. Experts are now saying that Mount Tambora is ready to erupt again as a sequence of earthquakes has been shaking the island at increasing frequency since April. Columns of ash are already venting as high as 4,600 feet.

By Steve Tracton  |  11:00 AM ET, 09/23/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  International Weather, Science, Latest, History

Posted at 10:10 AM ET, 09/15/2011

What is Washington, D.C.’s weather like in September? Breaking down norms and extremes

September may often be cited as the beginning of the “nice weather season” in Washington, D.C. Summertime heat and humidity are on the wane, and glorious sunny days are only sometimes stopped in their tracks by (often tropical and sometimes significant) rain events. As the month progresses, those overnight lows start getting back into the light jacket type of territory. Can talk of snow be far off?

By Ian Livingston  |  10:10 AM ET, 09/15/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Local Climate, Latest, History

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 08/25/2011

Washington’s worst five hurricanes and tropical storms

While the remnants of tropical systems impact the Washington area frequently, almost every year, it’s fairly uncommon to have a major tropical storm or hurricane directly impact our local region. With that said, the Washington area has experienced a number of damaging hurricanes and tropical storms over the past century. Below is a list of what I consider to be the Washington, D.C. area’s top five most damaging and impactful tropical systems.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  12:30 PM ET, 08/25/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, Tropical Weather, History

Posted at 01:07 PM ET, 08/24/2011

A day to remember: August 28, 1963 - what was weather like for MLK dream speech?

August 28, 1963, 48 years ago this Sunday, will long be remembered as a watershed day in American history, when up to 250,000 people participated in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was then that Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Most people present in Washington, D.C. on that epic day believe they can remember what the weather was like. Or can they? This is where the picture becomes a little murky.

By Don Lipman  |  01:07 PM ET, 08/24/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 07/21/2011

Bull Run battle 1861: As hot then as now?

On July 21, 1861, about three months after the beginning of the Civil War, the first major battle was fought between poorly trained Union and Confederate troops. The battle, an early victory for the Confederacy, was said to have been waged during a “hot and sultry” period. It was said to be so hot that, by the time hostilities began, bodies of slain troops at the earlier (July 18th) battle site of Blackburn’s Ford were said to be bloated and “unrecognizable.” But just how hot was it during that fateful period and how did the weather compare to the heat wave now enveloping D.C .(and much of the country)?

By Don Lipman  |  11:30 AM ET, 07/21/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, Lipman

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 06/01/2011

Old “Ben” and his Franklin lightning rod

As most of us know, Ben Franklin had a childhood fascination with electricity, performing early experiments with static electricity and later, the Leyden jar, a device that “stores” electricity (a capacitor). Eventually, he performed his famous kite experiment, in which he supposedly flew a kite into a thunderstorm and held a metal key on the other end to test his theory that lightning was a form of static electricity. Or did he? Unfortunately, we don’t know for sure. Franklin was very diligent about recording all of his important activities in his diary, where there is no mention of that experiment. Nevertheless, whether Franklin himself actually performed the experiment or not, he was able to greatly benefit from what was learned and subsequently invented what he called the “Franklin rod,” a device to help protect structures from lightning-caused fires.

By Don Lipman  |  12:00 PM ET, 06/01/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  Latest, History, Lipman, Thunderstorms

Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 04/27/2011

Washington D.C. area’s worst five tornado events

The tornado season in 2011, off to a fast and furious start, is likely to become one for the record books. Thus far, the Washington, D.C. metro region has largely been spared, with only very weak tornadoes in the region. While the Washington area does not get the quantity or usually the severity of tornadoes that impact the states to our west, we have experienced a number of dangerous twisters over the past century. This post contains a list of what I consider to be the Washington, D.C. area’s top five most damaging and deadly tornadoes...

By Kevin Ambrose  |  11:13 AM ET, 04/27/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Photography, Thunderstorms, Latest

Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2011

April 1861: The War Between the States begins— what was the weather like?

On April 12, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, had been in office only 39 days when, at 4:30 A.M., Confederate cannons opened fire against Ft. Sumter, SC, a small Union garrison in Charleston harbor. The Civil War had begun. Most historians agree that the weather was a huge issue during the entire conflict but strangely, at the time of the Ft. Sumter bombardment, little was reported about the weather.

By Don Lipman  |  12:00 PM ET, 04/11/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest

Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 04/01/2011

Civil War relic hunting in snow

This past Sunday, I joined the Diggin’ in Virginia spring relic hunt in Culpeper, Virginia. The weather was anything but springlike, however, as the first day of the hunt began with the ground covered by an inch of wet snow and light snow falling steadily from the sky. The weather did not deter over 200 relic hunters who had signed up for the event and the hunt continued without a weather delay.

By Kevin Ambrose  |  11:30 AM ET, 04/01/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, Latest, Photography

Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 12/24/2010

A look back at big Christmas snows in D.C.

While it doesn't look like much snow, if any, will fall this Christmas...let's take a look back at some of the biggest December 25 snows... The largest storm on Dec. 24 or 25 was one which ended, and dropped most of its snow on, Christmas Eve in 1966.

By Ian Livingston  |  10:45 AM ET, 12/24/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History, History, History

Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 11/23/2010

Forecasting "turkeys": predictions gone awry

Recently, I noticed that a Florida senior center was planning a presentation entitled "Tremendous 'Turkeys' of History." Included were: Fulton's steam engine, initially deemed a folly; Disney's Snow White, considered a certain flop when (and if) it reached the theaters; and, of course, Ford's Edsel, anticipated as the "car of the future," but which turned out to be the greatest design disaster in automotive history, although some considered it a car ahead of its time. What about U.S. weather forecasting "turkeys?" We can all think of some, but what were some of the most conspicuous since the founding of the Weather Bureau, now the National Weather Service (NWS), in 1870? I did some research (1) and, because it's now almost winter, am limiting the cases to blown, or almost blown, snow forecasts, which usually leave an indelible mark on our collective memories.

By Don Lipman  |  10:30 AM ET, 11/23/2010 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Categories:  History