The full moon sets behind the Arlington House at the same time that the sun rises, March 7, 2015.  The Potomac River, in the foreground, is covered by snow and ice.  It is historic from a weather perspective to have ice on the Potomac River so late in the season. (Kevin Ambrose)

The March sun is finally taking control of our frozen situation and is quickly melting the snow and ice that has encased our area for weeks.  But until this week, the Potomac River remained snow and ice covered.   It is historic from a weather perspective to have ice on the Potomac River so late in the season.

There have been many winters in the past that the Potomac River didn’t freeze bank-to-bank, even during the coldest days of January and early February.   Thus, having ice and snow on the river into the second week of March is very rare and possibly unprecedented, at least in modern times.

[Is spring here to stay?]

Looking way back in time, NOAA has a local weather journal from 1797 that documents a warm and rainy winter that kept the Potomac River relatively ice-free.  The journal describes how the ice harvest on the Potomac River that year was a complete bust due to warm temperatures and a lack of ice.  (Note, before refrigeration, ice on the Potomac River was harvested and put into ice houses to help preserve food during spring and summer months and to chill drinks.  Would you try Potomac River ice cubes in your drink?)

[Tracking the cherry blossoms week-by-week]

Despite the recent melt that started in earnest on Sunday, it’s only been several days since the Washington area was surrounded by a winter wonderland.  I made a few trips to the Potomac River on March 6 and 7 to photograph our historic late season ice and snow cover.  The fresh snow certainly helped give the river a more beautiful setting.  Included in this post are some of the photos from Friday and Saturday.


Snow and ice at Riverbend Park upstream from Great Falls, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Two geese fly over an open channel in the ice just upstream from Great Falls, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Animal tracks lead across the snow and onto the ice of the Potomac River near Riverbend Park, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Snow and ice at Riverbend Park near Great Falls, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

The trees are filled with snow along the banks of the Potomac River upstream from Great Falls, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Great Falls never freezes completely due to the fast flowing water, but plenty of ice chunks were visible going over the falls on March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

A view of Great Falls with a collection of ice chunks in the foreground, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Mather Gorge , located just down river from Great Falls, was relatively ice-free, March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

The Tidal Basin is covered with ice and snow on the morning of March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

An icy dawn at the Tidal Basin, March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

Sunrise over the frozen Tidal Basin, March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

A view of Rosslyn and the Memorial Bridge, March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

A view of the frozen Potomac River from Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin, March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

A view of the 14th Street Bridge, March 7, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)

It’s always a good reminder to “stay off ice” on the Potomac River. This photo was taken at Riverbend Park on March 6, 2015. (Kevin Ambrose)