The 10 Worst Winter Storms in DC History | NBC4 Washington

The 10 Worst Winter Storms in DC History

Will this weekend's storm make the list?



    As the Washington region prepares for what could be a record winter storm, Storm Team4's Amelia Segal looks back at the five biggest snowstorms to hit the region. (Published Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016)

    With potentially historic snowfall in the forecast for the end of this week, take a look back at the 10 worst winter storms to hit the D.C. area.

    1922: Nearly 100 were killed, and 133 were injured, during the tragic blizzard of 1922 when the flat roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre collapsed during a showing of a silent film.

    1. Knickerbocker Blizzard
    Jan. 27-28, 1922
    Snowfall: 28.0"

    The largest storm is D.C. history was called the Knickerbocker Blizzard after the theater that collapsed due to the heavy snow accumulation. The flat roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre, the largest and newest movie house in D.C. at the time, collapsed during a Jan. 28 evening showing of the silent film "Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford," killing 98 people and injuring 133.

    2. Great Blizzard of 1899
    Feb. 11-13, 1899
    Snowfall: 20.5"

    Dubbed the Great Blizzard of 1899, this storm paralyzed much of the eastern United States, including southern states all the way down to Florida. D.C. experienced record cold temperatures, with thermometers registering at -15 degrees.

    3. President's Day Snowstorm of 1979
    Feb. 18-19, 1979
    Snowfall: 18.7"

    The President's Day Snowstorm of 1979 caught D.C. by surprise since forecasters predicted that the storm would bypass the city. The storm caused the Smithsonian museums to close for two days in a row, something that hadn't happened in 50 years. Farmers who were in D.C. to protest agricultural policy used their tractors to help plow streets and get emergency personnel to hospitals.

    2010: A pedestrian walks behind tree branches that snapped from the weight of thick snow on Feb. 11, 2010, after the D.C. area was hit two snowstorms within five days. The earlier storm, Feb. 5-6, 2010, dropped 17.8" on the region. It was quickly followed by more snow Feb. 9-10, 2010. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    Photo credit: Getty Images

    4. Snowmageddon
    Feb. 5-6, 2010
    Snowfall: 17.8"

    Dubbed Snowmaggedon by President Barack Obama, the 2010 blizzard practically shut down D.C. and left thousands without power. The entire mall was covered in deep snow, leaving 16 rows of soldiers' names buried in snow at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    5. Blizzard of 1996
    Jan. 6-8, 1996
    Snowfall: 17.1"

    Beginning at 9 p.m. on Jan. 6, the crippling blizzard of 1996 dumped 12 inches of snow in D.C. in just 24 hours. The storm was so bad that President Bill Clinton had to shut down the federal government for nearly a week, recalls. Total property damage estimates range from $600 million to $3 billion.

    2003: Workers remove snow after one of D.C.'s biggest snowstorms in history, Feb. 15-18, 2003. The storm left more than two feet of snow and shut down the city for three days. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
    Photo credit: Getty Images

    6. President's Day Snowstorm of 2003
    Feb. 16-18, 2003
    Snowfall: 16.7"

    Snow fell heavily from Boston to D.C. during the long weekend, partially due to moisture from El Nino. Whiteout conditions, heavy snow, sleet and bitter cold shutdown the D.C. area. While 16.7 inches of snow was reported at Reagan National Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport had an astonishing 28.2 inches fell, "breaking the all-time Baltimore record set during the Knickerbocker Storm of January 1922," reported.

    7. Megalopolitan Blizzard

    Feb. 11-12, 1983

    Known as the Megalopolitan Blizzard, the 1983 storm left some areas of northwest Montgomery and Frederick counties with the greatest amount of snow ever recorded in those areas, even more than that recorded during the infamous Knickerbocker Storm of 1922. The storm crippled the region, closing the area's three major airports and shutting down Metro, according to the Washington Post.

    2009: Drivers try to navigate through heavy snow on the second day of the Dec. 18-19, 2009 snowstorm in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
    Photo credit: Getty Images

    8. Snowpocalypse
    Dec. 18-19, 2009
    Snowfall: 16.4"

    The 2009 "Snowpocalypse" that blasted the East Coast caused usual snowstorm troubles, but D.C. took the weekend to recover, with only a few weather-related delays and closings the following Monday. However, the snow stuck around, giving D.C. residents a rare white Christmas. There are only 13 years on record that had an inch or more of snow on the ground in D.C. on Christmas.

    9 (TIE). Feb. 7, 1936
    Snowfall: 14.4"
    More than 14 inches of snow fell during the storm that ranged from the Virginia mountains to the lower Eastern Shore. The heavy snowfall helped to set up the March 1936 Great Spring Flood of the Potomac River, the National Weather Service said.

    9 (TIE). Feb. 15-16, 1958
    Snowfall: 14.4"
    The 1958 coastal storm affected much of the East Coast, and it was the first of two major nor'easter storms to hit the area that winter. More than 14 inches of snow fell in the D.C. area, with another snowstorm in March northeast of the city, according to the National Weather Service.