Winter in the Mid Atlantic can either behave like the south and stay mild, or like the northeast and snowy. Often we get caught in between and hang on every word of potential snow. Each year it is cliche to expect snow around Presidents Week. That’s when we get our biggest storms. But starting the season with the first snow in December is filled with anticipation by many and for many years it kept coming on the same date.
Baltimore may have a few special weather dates, but one in particular has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. December 5th appeared to have been the average arrival of snow, at least in the last decade.
The start of Faith in the Flakes was on this famed date with my oldest son when he was just a few years old. After missing an early season storm, I told Little B to believe it would eventually snow as we had plenty of winer ahead of us. That phrase came out during our conversation, and it was this date is when #FITF was born. It was on December 5 when we got our snow I redeemed my weather skills as a meteorologist and dad in his eyes. It is also why snow lovers can celebrate our love of winter on this date every year.
This year I get to debut a project I have been working on for a few years and share with you. If you have kids, teachers, or anyone obsessed with snow, I hope you enjoy the Snow Day Kit below. More on that, plus video of my live coverage on WBAL during the first record breaking storm below… First, here is a look at the average snowfall that we can expect each month.
Average Snow in Baltimore By Month
In Baltimore, early surges of cold air and the hype over the holidays often gets many excited, but we usually have to wait until January and February for our real snow.
Average December = 3.1″ Snow
Snowiest December = 20.4″ in 1966
Largest Storm: 17″ December 19, 2009 *It was originally higher and the month that year would have had the record, but NWS lowered the total and other totals for other storms later that winter.
December 5th- Date With Destiny For Almost a Decade
To add some context:
- December 5th 2001 was a day the record high temperature was set in at BWI at 75°F.
- One year later, the record snowfall fell with 7.4″ measured at the airport. This began a stretch of eight out of the next nine years with the first snow of the season on this date. It was like clockwork and made some people hit a streak of wins in their office pools.
For nearly a decade, 70% of the years had some form of snow on this particular date. The 2008 leap year was off by one day. Baltimore had over 3-inches fall on December 5th at BWI on four occasions, or 40% of the time. There was another year with only 1 inch recorded, but a few miles north of the airport 5 inches were recorded in Woodlawn. In all, 50% of the time we have at least 1 inch of snow. That is something special with no particular rhyme or reason.
My first full winter at WMAR, there was almost a full repeat of that storm one year ago to the day. It was a Friday, and it turned into a 3 day weekend for most schools with 6.8 inches of snow. I also remember getting an email from my friend Melodie Taylor saying she called it! She won the pool at her school for picking the first snow day. That was two in a row for her and all of us. It had to be a coincidence. But could it happen again?
Well, December 5th in 2004 was a miss, but it was also on a weekend. In 2005 however, the date proved itself again with 3.3″. Thanks to the prior leap year, this was on a Monday. That benefitted more kids and teachers, and displayed the first storm for Baltimore three out of four years. That is a statistical outlier. Consider the months of winter between December and March. These odds were pretty slim for one day to always have snow, but continued on.
In 2006, we didn’t get a storm, but flurries and snow showers measured a trace, and that kept the trend alive. But wouldn’t you know it, 2007 brought the first storm to Baltimore AGAIN! This time it was 4.7″ at BWI. Nearby Glen Burnie had 6 inches, while parts of Carroll County estimated over 8 inches by Doppler radar.
As you look at the graphic here, 2008 has an asterisk* It was just a buck in the trend, as the snow fell after midnight and left an official 0.6″ for Baltimore on December 6th. One viewer did point out that it was a leap year, so that may have pushed the calendar off the mark.
The wonderful record shattering winter began with the first storm (again) on December 5th. I remember speaking to a large group from the NSA in Fort Meade that October about weather. I was asked to make a prediction for the first snow, and in front of roughly 100 people I had to play up December 5th. It was for no reason other than history, but history likes to repeat itself. By trusting it blindly, I got to look like a rock star.
Climate records for December 5th 2009 show only 1 inch of snow for BWI after 0.85″ liquid equivalent. Does it matter? It still registered snow, and nearby Pimilco in north Baltimore City observed 2.5″, while Woodlawn on the west side of the beltway had 5″ of powder.
This is the most questionable date on the list. Technically only flurries fell around Baltimore, but it was the first ‘cold’ day of the season with temperatures stuck in the 30s. The morning did start off looking like winter with a coating of snow in the Hereford Zone of Baltimore County.
It has been eight years since this our December 5th streak, but we can still celebrate it an dream. We are due to have snow return.
Snow Day Kit
I finally put together our ritual the night before a storm in this kit. It includes a very soft raglan Tee printed inside out with #FITF ANF the check list, #FITF spoon for under your pillow, ice cube tray with snowflake shapes, chalk, a #FITF wrist-band, a mini SnowStix, and a bag to carry it all in.
This debut price is about $40 off of the retail cost. Order by December 10 and it should arrive for the holiday. This will also help us give a free Snow Day Kit to each of the Just In Power Kids.
That record snow on December 5, 2002 that started the trend was my last full snow storm I reported for WBAL-TV before moving to the other station across town. I was on Ritchie Highway in Glen Burnie all morning so Chief Meteorologist Tom Tasselmeyer stayed at the station all night to cover the storm. Perhaps we were both a little giddy from the fatigue, but he got me to do a snow angel on Live TV. It’s on my career highlight reel.
In this clip…
- Scroll past 35 seconds for the actual Live Shot.
- At 4:00 see my snow angel. Tom Tasslemery gave me a 10.
Maybe I didn’t hit my head, but the date was stuck in my head since then.
December 5th- FITF Day
Gather your friends and co-workers: Wear your #FITF gear to honor and celebrate this unique calendar holiday. This is the date almost every year last decade marked the first snow of each winter season. I will have the history to show shortly and will debut a project I have worked on for 3 years!!!!
FITF and SnowStix Stores are now OPEN
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