Knickerbocker Snowstorm

January 28, 2002

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Provided by: GLOBE at Night
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The Knickerbocker Snowstorm was the biggest snowstorm to ever affect Washington D.C., at least in the last 230 years. In 1922, eighty years ago today, 28 inches (71 cm) of snow buried our Nation's Capital. The above photo shows the scene along 18th Street and Crandall's Knickerbocker Theatre. During the storm, hundreds of patrons were watching a flick (Get Rich-Quick Wallingford) at the Knickerbocker, Washington's finest and most modern theater at the time, when the roof caved-in as a result of excessive snow loading. About 9:00 p.m., the orchestra had finished playing during the intermission, and people were returning to their seats when a loud groan was heard, then the roof suddenly collapsed. It's known that 98 people were killed and more than 130 were injured.

On January 27-28 1772, 150 years before the Knickerbocker Storm, as much as 3 feet (91 cm) of snow inundated the area between Charlottesville, Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both commented about this storm in their diaries. It's now referred to as the Washington-Jefferson Storm. Washington wrote "... the deepest snow which I suppose the oldest living ever remembers to have seen in this country."

For more about this storm see Blizzards and Snowstorms of Washington DC: A Photographic History of Washington's most Memorable Winter Storms, by Kevin Ambrose.

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