1958: The Eve of Spring Snowstorm


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On March 19, 1958, Rain began falling along the eastern seaboard as a weak storm moved across the Ohio Valley. As that system approached the East Coast cold air was drawn into the storm from eastern Canada. The storm exploded. As it strengthened rapidly and the cold air was pulled southward all the way into the Mid-Atlantic states, the rain changed to snow and more and more moisture was fed into the system from a strong jet stream that reached all the way down into the Gulf of Mexico. When the rain started in March 19th temperatures were well up into the 40s. By the night of the 19th temperatures had sagged down to near freezing. The snow picked up in intensity and continued for the next several days. Most of the time the ratio of water content to the amount of the mid-Atlantic states is 10 to 1. That is for every inch of water there is about 10” of snow. In this situation though, later in March, with temperatures at or above freezing that ratio was more than 4 to 1 or even 3 to I. That meant the snow was much heavier than usual the result would soon play itself out with collapsed roofs and buildings as they yielded to the sheer weight of the snow. When the snowfall was over more than foot of the white stuff covered many of the big northeastern cities from Philadelphia to Boston. Many of the northern and eastern suburbs received almost 2 feet of snow from the storm that would go into the History books as the “Eve of Spring Snowstorm”. Just south of the snow area in Washington DC and Baltimore had record rainfall of almost 4” and flooding.

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