Looking back at another February snowstorm in 2003

IR imagery of snowstorm that struck the area President's Day 2003
IR imagery of snowstorm that struck the area President's Day 2003(NOAA)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 4:56 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 at 4:57 PM EST
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(WHSV) - 20 years ago, there was another significant February snowstorm that occurred in 2003 that comes behind the Blizzard of February 1983 and “Snowmaggedon” back in 2010.

This snowstorm is known as the President’s Day Storm II. It spread heavy snow across the major cities of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic dumping 15-30 inches of snow across the major cities from Washington DC to Boston and is the biggest snowstorm on record for Baltimore and Boston. On the Northeastern Snowfall Impact Scale, this storm was rated a Category 4, which is “crippling.”

The President's Day 2003 Snowstorm brought 30+ inches of snow to some in our area
The President's Day 2003 Snowstorm brought 30+ inches of snow to some in our area(NWS)

This was during what was already a very snowy winter as the 2002-2003 winter season is in the top 10 in terms of most snowfall for our area. For some of our area, this was part of a top 5 season for snow.

This storm was a classic setup that major winter storms have in our area. A strong low-pressure system developed off the East Coast, feeding the system moisture. Also, high pressure was in place across eastern Canada, feeding cold air into the area at the same time.


This storm brought a range of snowfall across our area. For some spots, this was a significant snowstorm but not a massive one. For others, it was a completely different story. Generally, areas of Harrisonburg and points northward saw anywhere from 15-30 inches of snow, with some reaching 30-40 inches of snow.

The highest totals came across the Potomac Highlands and Northern Valley. Wardensville in Hardy County received over 3 feet of snow! Garrett County, Maryland, which borders Grant County had one spot record 44 inches! For areas such as Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro, snowfall totals were anywhere from 5 to 15 inches. This was not fluffy snow that fell, it was heavy, wet snow which just made things even more difficult. The storm was regarded as the worst snowstorm since the Blizzard of 1996.



Snow began to fall across the area on the night of February 15th and continued to fall all the way until February 17th. Snowdrifts from the storm buried cars parked along streets in Staunton. On Florence Avenue, a Toyota Tercel was barely identifiable because of the snowfall and drifts produced by the plows. There was a death due to sledding in Augusta Springs, and an 82-year-old man in Warren County died from a heart attack due to shoveling snow. In Mount Solon, snow collapsed a roof that housed turkeys, killing all 13,000 turkeys and causing losses of $200,000.