The Washington Post

Rare mid-March snowstorm in Washington, D.C. (PHOTOS)

Snow total reports from NWS | Snowfall total map | Infographic: seasonal snow totals *

Gulls take flight near the Jefferson Memorial March 17. The snow in the foreground blankets the Tidal Basin paddle boats which will soon be filled with tourists cruising for views of the cherry blossoms. (Kevin Ambrose)

Last winter, the official biggest snowstorm in D.C., as measured at Reagan National Airport, didn’t occur until March.  It was a terrible winter if you were a snow lover because no snowfall of greater than 1 inch occurred near downtown D.C. from December through February.  Then, on March 25, 1.4 inches of snow fell, which was quite unusual for so late in the season, especially for a winter that was relatively snow-free.

This winter, something even more unusual and incredible happened.  On March 16-17, 7.2 inches of snow was recorded at National Airport which bested this year’s previous high mark of 7 inches which occurred in the mid-February snow event.  Even more impressive, Dulles Airport reported 11.1 inches of snow with the storm.

Our mid-March snowstorm was also one of the biggest storms on record for so late in the season, dropping more than five times the normal snow for D.C. during the whole month.  In addition, it really didn’t seem like a March snowstorm because the snow was rather dry and fluffy and it did not quickly melt following the storm.  It seemed more like a mid-January snowstorm.

Dawn breaks on a snowy Capitol, March 17. (Ian Livingston)

Will this be our last snow shoot of the season?  That was the question we asked at the end of our snow photo post on March 3.  We were not sure of the answer then, and given this winter, it’s a question that we still cannot answer with confidence.  Only time will tell…

The National Mall is covered with snow on the morning of March 17. (Kevin Ambrose)

Capitol statue covered in snow just after sunrise on March 17. (Ian Livingston)

The Supreme Court building with a fresh blanket of snow, March 17. (Kevin Ambrose)

Snow piled high on Tidal Basin greenery. March 17. (Ian Livingston)

A snowy Capitol early on the morning of March 17. (Kevin Ambrose)

Just days before the cherry blossom festival opens, and it looks a bit more like mid-winter. In some years blooms are nearing peak at this point. March 17. (Ian Livingston)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial with snow on March 17. (Kevin Ambrose)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial covered in icicles thanks to the strong March sun melting snow despite temperatures below freezing on March 17. (Ian Livingston)

A cherry tree, covered with snow, frames the Jefferson Memorial, March 17. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial with deep March snow on March 17. (Ian Livingston)

A statue at the Korean War Veterans Memorial covered in snow March 17. (Ian Livingston)

We were interviewed by a WJLA news crew while on our photo shoot around the Tidal Basin, March 17, 2014.  (WJLA)

These photos compare snow depths for the three largest snowstorms of 2014.  The snowman is 19″ tall with a 12″ NWS ruler strapped to his side.   The ruler is only visible in the middle photo.  The photos and snow depths were taken in Oakton, Virginia. (Kevin Ambrose)

Late during the evening of March 17 light snow fell with a near full moon rising above the tree line. (Kevin Ambrose)


Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank.
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