Blizzard of '96 buried Baltimore 17 years ago

  • Snowfall topped 2 feet across parts of northwestern Maryland in the Blizzard of 1996.
Snowfall topped 2 feet across parts of northwestern Maryland… (National Weather Service )
January 08, 2013|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Snowfall records this week date back to the Blizzard of 1996, one of the more memorable storms in a generation for the Baltimore area and across the Northeast.

Accumulation topped a foot and a half as far south as Calvert and St. Mary's counties, and topped 2 feet in Columbia, Owings Mills and points northwest. The records, set at BWI Marshall Airport: 15.8 inches Jan. 7, 6.7 inches Jan. 8 and 4.1 inches Jan. 9, contributing to a total of 32.6 inches for the month.

As The Sun reported 17 years ago today:

The Blizzard of 1996 struck states as far south as Kentucky and moved north to Philadelphia, Newark and New York. It closed Interstate 65 in Alabama, choked major highways on the East Coast with small mountains of drifting snow and stranded thousands of people caught in its wide, white path.

Forecasters say the blizzard dumped 2 inches of snow per hour on Baltimore yesterday, and it could wind up depositing about 18 inches by the time the system leaves Maryland today.

The blizzard came close to challenging the record in Baltimore, set in 1922 when 24.7 inches fell on the city. By 10 p.m., 14.8 inches had fallen at BWI.

Yesterday's blizzard closed malls and major airports in Maryland. Only two planes made it out of BWI -- to the warm, sunny climes of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.

The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall called off two concerts. The Metropolitan Transit Authority shut down by 3 p.m. Even the Whitetail ski resort in Southern Pennsylvania closed its slopes.

Cardinal William H. Keeler gave Maryland Catholics permission to stay home on the Holy Day.

The Sun meanwhile apologized to subscribers for late or missing newspapers given the treacherous travel conditions, which were enough for Gov. Parris Glendening to call a state of emergency and call in the National Guard for assistance.

As is always the case, the storm dominated the local newscast.

"This little disturbance we expected to be very, very light turned out to be a much stronger weather system than we expected," meteorologist Bob Turk said on a 5 p.m. newscast as the storm continued to dump on Baltimore.

Watch it for yourself:

The storm even led the CBS Evening News telecast:

Have a weather question? E-mail me at or tweet to @MdWeather.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.