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Some March snowfalls rank among Baltimore's heaviest on record

March snowfall is not uncommon in the Baltimore area, with 2 inches on average during the month. But some storms have dumped much more than that -- though it is typically wet snow that disappears quickly.

March storms in 1942, 1892, 1962 and 1993 rank among the 20 heaviest snowfalls on record for Baltimore, according to National Weather Service data.

An 8-inch snow fell in mid-March 1858, the heaviest of that winter season. But it was described as "light." "In a very short time, the streets were in fine condition for sleighing, and the jingle of the bells was heard in every direction," according to Sun archives.

The granddaddy of March winter storms in Baltimore came at the end of March 1942, known as the Palm Sunday storm. An innocuous weather forecast called for flurries in western areas, but what started as rain ended up as snow from 2 a.m. that Sunday through 9 p.m. that evening, dumping 22 inches. Cars were abandoned and streetcars and trolleys halted. One local weatherman, John R. Weeks, called the storm a "freak". Spring robins were said to be "bewildered", "bedraggled" and "forlornly" searching for food.

Two feet of snow fell on the state March 20, 1958, and was blamed for five deaths. A Baltimore County man died when the roof of a shed collapsed on him, while three children died in a fire in Annapolis. The electrical damage was estimated at $500,000, or about $4 million in today's dollars.
A lesser-known Palm Sunday storm fell March 23, 1964, reminding many of the major storm two decades earlier. Though more than a foot fell in many areas, there was little impact on travel or religious services.

An unexpected storm dropped as much as 10 inches of snow on Maryland March 9, 1976, causing concerns for early spring blooms and crops. The state's crop of apricots was in full bloom when the snow hit. But, like many late-season storms, temperatures close to the freezing mark kept roads mostly wet. 

Most recently, the "Blizzard of '93" dumped 15-foot snow drifts in Carroll County and was blamed for at least three deaths. Along with the snow, significant coatings of ice snarled travel. A Concorde jet landed at BWI Airport after it was unable to land on an icy runway at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. The storm's effects were felt from Florida and Alabama up through New England.

Sun librarian Paul McCardell contributed to this post.

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Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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