Last night I looked back at the Blizzard of January 1996. Tonight I'd like to "clean up" one other detail about that storm.

Officially, that storm dumped 30.7 inches of snow on Philadelphia, but even that number is controversial because of the way the snow was measured. It wasn't done in the standard way, which is basically just going out with a yardstick every six hours. But during the Blizzard of '96, it was so windy and the snow was being blown around so much that the observers at the Philadelphia airport used an alternate procedure - they collected the falling snow, melted it, and then used a table to estimate the snowfall based on the amount of meltwater and the temperature. And they did this every hour, instead of every six hours. This procedure would tend to overestimate the snowfall.

But having said that, other nearby observers who measured the snow in the standard way came up with fairly similar numbers. For example, here at The Franklin Institute we measured 28 inches. So 30.7 inches was probably "in the ballpark," and the controversy about the exact amount of snow shouldn't at all diminish the historic stature of that storm.

Pledge | TV12 | 91FM | Education | Community | Underwriting | Fresh Air | Membership

Listen Live! | WHYY Store | About WHYY | Contact Us | WHYY Home