Blizzard Weekend in Washington, D.C.

After months of unseasonably warm temperatures and thoughts that winter might pass us by, mother nature treated the D.C. area  (or punished, depending on who you ask) to record-setting snowfall.

Exactly how much snow is still somewhat in dispute, since weather officials at National Airport failed to follow the recommended snow measuring technique.

I didn’t use the recommended way of measuring, either, but my drift-busting Iowa-grown feet can tell you that D.C. received a heap of snow– likely close to two feet over the last two days.

Even though it appears that the weekend’s measurements might have been even higher if the proper measuring method had been used, this weekend’s blizzard (which some are calling Snowzilla, others Jonas, and still others by the title #MakeWinterGreatAgain), the 17.8 inches of snowfall ties with 2010’s Snowmageddon as the fourth biggest storm in D.C.

Snow on the Anacostia

Despite snow being one of the primary reasons I left my home state, I welcome the white stuff’s occasional appearance in D.C. We very seldom have the bitter single digit (or lower) temperatures common to Midwest winters, and when snow does arrive, it tends to dissipate relatively fast as long as the sun shines and the daily temps reach above freezing.

All that is to say, D.C. snows are not the boss of me. It also helps that I live in a place where I don’t have to shovel, I don’t have a car to uncover, and I can use a combination of my bike and my two legs to do most things. Yay for the biped lifestyle!

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Felkerino mounted studded tires on one of his bikes and managed to ride his bike both days. I have not gone the studded tires route yet, as I’m perfectly happy to use these times as an opportunity to walk or run. I still believe that on two feet is the ultimate nimble state.

It’s rare that people stop driving their cars and the pedestrians can have their run of the town. These are wonderful moments. I have mixed feelings the D.C. area’s car dependence, and I wish it were possible for more people in our city to live without daily reliance on a car.

I know this is a complicated issue for many U.S. cities, but still, I wish our car-centric ways would – could – change. Until then, these snow-covered days are a welcome respite from vehicular dominance and give a tiny glimpse into what could be.


Over the course of the winter storm, I ventured out to stretch the legs and check out the state of our nearby surroundings, and I took some photos to remember this weekend and to share with all of you. (This is the first time I’ve tried WordPress’s “Gallery” feature so let me know what you think.)


  1. I know that so much snow in a single dose is a lot for areas to take, and I don’t wish any tragedy on anyone, but I know I appreciate these rare instances when motorists don’t dominate the roadways as well. We got our big dose of snow (and I’m sure there’s more coming at some point) a month or so ago, but it was split into two less enormous storms a few days apart and totaled about the same amount the east has received over the weekend. I was walking to an appointment the day after the second helping, and while walking home, a woman stopped her car, rolled down her window and said, “Do you need a ride somewhere?” I had two thoughts: 1) It’s very nice that people are willing to offer assistance to others they don’t know, and I definitely appreciate that; and 2) It never ceases to amaze me that people believe someone is disadvantaged because s/he chose to walk or ride a bike in this sort of weather.

    The studded bike tires are something I consider every winter, but as we are almost in February now, I cannot help but think it might be a waste for this season (though I suppose it depends on how long the winter-like weather stays). My concern is not the snow (I’ve ridden through it and done just fine); however, I don’t like the ice that is created very quickly as motorists drive the roads and/or the sun comes out and partially melts and then freezes the snow into ice.

    Agreed on the gallery photos – I enjoy seeing the progression and it’s a way to include many more photos without taking up page space, I’d think.


  2. I think there are many people who are not convinced that walking can really be for transportation purposes, or that there are people who choose walking over a ride in a car, especially during winter or rain or other conditions that are not ideal. I have a lot more to say about how we disregard opportunities for active transportation and instead think about physical activity only in the context of exercise, but I’m going to climb off the soapbox now.


    1. I have moments when I wonder if there were (heaven forbid) some sort of apocalyptic event that brought an end to motorized transportation more permanently how many people would fall apart and simply not know what to do or how to get anywhere. I feel similarly about learning to do things for ourselves (such as making usable items, cooking, building, etc). I think it’s important to know how to do something that isn’t heavily reliant on the technological advances of the last couple of decades. I realize we can’t all know how to do everything, but I do think it’s good to have skills to survive. Whether those skills are ever actually needed or not, it’s a good feeling to know that I’m not reliant on someone else for everything in life. It sometimes feels as though we’re moving into an era in which few people will be able to do anything themselves and instead are entirely reliant on mass-produced garbage (which comes in the form of food and goods). But, now I’m on a soapbox of my own, I suppose. 🙂

      I feel fortunate to live in a city that isn’t a city-city, but is still fairly walkable and bikeable with ease, and I agree with you that even in such a place, people still don’t view walking as a viable means of transportation.


  3. I work in Waterloo, IA. I commute to work by bike on many days, and have a friend who has no car and commutes by bike no matter the weather. We have gone the studded tire route and can testify they make everything lots better. The only surface that is still a problem is “snirt” or “snand” — especially if it’s 2-3 inches deep, soft, and churned up by cars. For snirt, we think the only ridable option is probably a fat bike.


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