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100 years ago, 100 people died in the Knickerbocker storm

The District's largest snowstorm brought snow rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour.

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s largest snowstorm on record, dubbed the "Knickerbocker Storm," occurred 100 years ago, from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29, 1922.

It was a classic nor'easter and brought snow rates of one to two inches per hour, bringing a total of 28 inches to the nation’s capital. The deadly storm caused the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater to collapse, killing 100 people inside and injuring many others. A record of 33 inches of snow was measured in Rock Creek Park.

The storm developed off the South Carolina coast, then moved up to the Hatteras area of North Carolina and up the East Coast from there. A dome of high pressure was centered in New York State that pumped in cold air which kept the precipitation all snow.

Temperatures were in the low-to-mid 20s during the storm.

Below is a surface weather observation map from Jan. 28 from the U.S. Weather Bureau, the equivalent of the present-day National Weather Service. A cold wedge of air was in the Mid-Atlantic before the coastal storm moved in. 

Credit: US Weather Bureau

With the D.C. area's temperatures in the mid-20s during the storm, it would have been more of a light, fluffy snow that could be blown around into drifts easily. If the temps had been in the low to mid-30s, the snow would have been wetter and we would have had less of it because of higher water content.

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