The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Remember when D.C. actually got snow? Eight years ago today, Snowmageddon hit.

A basketball hoop is filled with snow in Oakton, Va., on Feb. 6, 2010. (Kevin Ambrose)

It takes a very big storm to fill a basketball hoop with snow — and accumulate 8 to 12 inches above the rim. Eight years ago today, that’s just what happened to the outdoor basketball hoops across our area.

The snowstorm that filled the hoops was a storm for the ages, and our own Capital Weather Gang dubbed it Snowmageddon, a name that stuck and was later used by President Barack Obama and the news media.

Initially, marginal temperatures near and just above freezing kept most accumulation to grassy surfaces or the coldest locations in the western suburbs. As the sun set on Friday, Feb. 5, 2010, temperatures fell and the snowfall’s intensity picked up, while convective bands (similar to heavy rain patterns associated with thunderstorms) began to push into the area around the developing low pressure.

Cold air aloft, being continually sent in from the north by high pressure, made this a somewhat rare winter storm in which all the precipitation fell as snow in the Washington area.

Periods of heavy snow, some accompanied by thunder and obscured flashes of lightning, continued across the region late that Friday through Saturday. Blizzard warnings were extended from the Eastern Shore back toward the west and into the District that Friday night. During the same period, Dulles International Airport reported heavy snow for every observation from 6 p.m. Feb. 5 until 8 a.m. Feb. 6.

The 2010 snowstorm ranks No. 4 all-time for D.C., tied with 2016’s Snowzilla, with 17.8 inches of accumulation, and the event ranks No. 2 all-time at the current observation location, Reagan National Airport.

Much of the city, however, reported totals in the 20- to 24-inch range, with the highest numbers located in a band just north and west of the city. Dulles Airport recorded 32.4 inches, while places close by, such as Leesburg, Va., fell just short of 3 feet, with 34.5 inches reported.

For the 2009-2010 winter season, snowfall records were broken. Snowstorms occurred Dec. 5, Dec. 18-19, Jan. 8, Jan. 30, Feb. 2-3, Feb. 6 and Feb. 10.  The total snowfall for the season at National Airport was 56.1 inches. Dulles reported 73.2 inches.

This winter season, however, it seems that every snowstorm seems to find a way to miss D.C. We’ve been dusted numerous times, but nothing significant has hit. It’s kind of frustrating for those of us who like snow.

At least it’s fun to look back and remember a time when we were a snow city. It can happen. Oh, well. On to the next rainstorm. We do need the rain.