Winter Storm Trivia Questions

1. Which of the following is not effected by wind chill?

        a. person         b. dog         c. car radiator         d. bird

Answer: c. Wind chill is the combination of wind and temperature and is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin such as that of a person or animal. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving the body temperature down. Wind chill has no effect on cars or other objects.

2. What is the coldest temperature ever recorded in Washington, DC?

        a. -10°F         b. -7°F         c. 0°F         d. -15°F

Answer: After a snowstorm left a foot of snow over the city on February 8, 1899, a record cold wave struck. On February 11, the temperature dipped to -15°F in the District. It was followed by a second great storm called "The Great Valentines Day Blizzard" which dumped another 20.5 inches of snow. That year DC saw a record 54 inches of snow.

3. What is the difference between sleet, hail, and freezing rain?

Answer: Hail is a chunk or stone of ice dropped from a thunderstorm. Sleet is frozen rain. Freezing rain is liquid rain that freezes to a surface such as the road or a tree.

4. True or False. It must be 32°F or colder for it to snow.

Answer: False. It has been known to snow with temperatures in the mid 40's. Temperatures are below 32°F up in the clouds where the snow is forming.

5. On the average, one inch of rain is equivalent to how many inches of snow?

        a. 10 inches         b. 1 inch         c. 5 inches         d. a foot

Answer: a. 10 inches of snow melts down to about an inch of liquid rain.

6. Which of the following impacts can Maryland and Virginia expect from a "Great Nor'easter"?

    a. Heavy snow         b. High winds             c. Coastal Flooding
    d.  Blizzard              e. All of the above      f. None of the above

Answer: e. Nor'easters cause high winds and flooding along the coast and heavy snow and sometimes blizzard conditions inland over the Greater Metropolitan Washington area. Nor'easters are responsible for the areas's most hazardous winter weather.

7.  What three months bring Washington its heaviest snow storms?

Answer: January, February, and March. It is the latter half of the winter in the Washington area that brings the nor'easters that dump the majority of our snow.

8. What is the greatest 24 hour snowfall in Washington, DC?

        a. 21 inches         b. 15 inches         c. 26 inches         d. 18 inches

Answer: The January 27-28, 1922 storm dumped 21 inches of snow in DC in 24 hours and had a storm total of 28 inches. It is known as the "Knickerbocker Storm" because the heavy snow caused the collapse of the Knickerbocker theater during a performance. One hundred people died inside.

9.  Can it snow from clear skies?

Answer: Yes. Ice crystals sometimes fall from clear skies when temperatures are in the single digits or colder.

10. What is more hazardous to trees and power lines?

        a. One inch of wet snow         b. One inch of ice

Answer: b. An inch of ice is heavier than wet snow and is hazardous enough to cause power lines and trees to come down.

Winter Trivia Facts

Fact: El Nino refers to a warming of the Pacific Equatorial waters and a slackening of the Trade Winds over those waters. But where does the name come from? It originates from Peru. Two big industries in Peru were fishing and fertilizer. Fishermen noticed that once every several years, the waters would warm; the upwelling of cold water that brought nutrients to the fish would stop; the fish that fed on the nutrients would leave; and the birds that fed on the fish would leave. The bird guano was a major source of fertilizer. It had a great impact on the local economy. They named it "El Nino" after the child, Jesus Christ, giving it a religious connotation because it seemed to occur around Christmas time.

Last winter, El Nino was at a record strength. Impact on the Washington Metropolitan area is for the winter (especially December) to be mild and there is an increased risk for nor'easters and a big snowstorm (8 or more inches).  However, El Nino winters in Washington and Baltimore tend to be all or nothing winters meaning that either we get 150 % or our normal snowfall or we get 5 inches or less. Rarely is it anything in between!

For more information on El to the El Nino Web Page.

Fact: La Nina refers to a cooling of the Pacific Equatorial waters and an increase in the Trade Winds over those waters.  It is not uncommon for La Nina to follow a strong El Nino. This pattern is expected to continue through this winter and therefore may have some effect on the Baltimore-Washington area weather. Therefore, this winter we expect it to average slightly above normal temperature wise..especially in January and February. Precipitation should be near normal in the Baltimore and DC area but trend toward drier than normal as you move south across Virginia.  For the official seasonal outlook or more information on La Nina, check out the web site from the NWS Climate Prediction here.

Fact: About 70 percent of winter storm related deaths occur in automobiles. The rest are primarily due to heart attacks from over exertions such as shoveling heavy snow or from hypothermia caused by over exposure to the cold.

When winter storms strike, stay indoors and keep warm and dry. Avoid over-exertion. Your heart is already working hard in the cold to keep your body warm.

Fact: The Winter of 1779-1780 was so cold that ice was piled 20 feet high along the Delmarva Coast and stayed there until spring. The upper portion of the Chesapeake Bay and the entire Potomac River was frozen solid. People were able to walk from Annapolis to Kent Island and from Alexandria into DC.

This winter in Washington, the National Weather Service expects a warmer than normal December with the overall winter period through March averaging near normal temperatures.

Fact: About 50% of deaths caused by exposure to cold (hypothermia), are to people over 60 years of age. Over 75% of these deaths are to men. About 20% of the deaths occur in the home.

People over age 60 and children less than a year old are most susceptible to the cold. For these people, keep indoor temperatures above 69F and when going outside, dress appropriately for the cold. Have plenty of layers of clothes and a hat on the head.