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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Under the Weather: 1922

Under the Weather: 1922

Washington, D.C. "Blizzard, 1/28/22." National Photo glass neg. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Snow Removal Strategy

It seems the DC government (and the surrounding jurisdictions in Virginia and Maryland) had the same snow removal strategy then as they do now --


It wasn't that terribly cold

It was only in the 20s.* It was the sheer amount of heavy, soggy, moisture-laden snow that made the Knickerbocker storm so dangerous.

In fact, had it been colder there would have been less snow and the snow that fell would have been lighter per given volume. Very cold snow tends to be spikier, which means it doesn't compress as much when it falls. In the same way, kosher salt is lighter (and weaker, if that's the word) per cup than granulated salt.

Snow that forms at warmer temperatures, above about -10C, also contains more moisture per flake, because warmer air can contain more moisture. Heavy, thick snow is most common when the temperature's at or just below freezing.

*Yeah, says the person from Winnipeg.


Looks as though nothing except the street lamp has been warm enough yet to get icicles to form.

Open Cars

Does anyone know how those open cars were weatherproofed inside to withstand moisture?

[Leather seats. Maybe some brass. Not much different from the buggies and runabouts of the horse era. - Dave]

Let it snow!

Oh, how nice it would be to have a proper snowfall again in the District, just one more time, even if we do view such events as White Death From Sky. Here are a couple of recent messages from Alert DC, a government service which provides "rapid text notification and update information during a major crisis or emergency".

National Weather reports that the District of Columbia is under a Winter Weather Advisory from 10 p.m. until 10 tomorrow morning. National Weather reports that the District could possibly see a tenth-of-inch of rain/sleet mix.

National Weather issued a Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 10 am to 4 p.m. Tuesday. Starting at 10 a.m. Light snow freezing rain and sleet likely mixing with rain in the afternoon. Little or no snow and sleet accumulation. Ice accumulation of less than one tenth of an inch. Highs in the mid 30s.

Stephen in D.C.

Have a 'Goodyear'!

Not exactly a Model T or 26 inches of snow, but after last week's storm:

to all on the site!

With Shovels & Wagons

At a total of 26 inches, papers reported this as the worst snowstorm to strike the city since 1899. (The historically-averaged total annual snowfall in D.C. is about 15 inches.) At the time, the city had no special provisions, equipment, regulations, or budget for removing snow from the streets.

Imperial Tire and Rubber Co. was located at 1235 New York Avenue (corner of 13th St.) I would imagine that their service department was located nearby.

Street-Cleaning Force of 200 at Work Today

With this city almost snowbound the street-cleaning department today will depend upon its regular force of approximately 200 men to keep the principal lanes of travel open.

Thomas Costigan, superintendent of the street-cleaning department, said last night that he did not believe it will be necessary to increase his force because of the storm. He added that he will not put his gang to work until there is a let-up in the snowfall.

"The District has now special appropriation for cleaning away snow," said Mr. Costigan. "Neither have we special snow equipment. We will employ the regular force, beginning, of course, in the downtown district. It may become necessary to put on additional help, but I believe that the regular force will handle the situation satisfactorily."

Mr. Costigan said that the cost of cleaning away the snow will be charged against the regular street-cleaning appropriation, which he estimated is about seven-twelfths expended.

With shovels and wagons, the force split into several gangs, will begin operations at the street intersections where there are car tracks. Narrow streets are given precedence over wide streets by the street cleaners. The snow is transported in wagons to the nearest sewers.

Washington Post, Jan 28, 1922

Citizens Urged to Lend Help
To Clear the Streets of Snow

The District of Columbia is confronted with an emergency.

The municipal government, through its head officials, has admitted that the regular street cleaning force is inadequate in personnel and equipment to meet the situation caused by the storm.

Therefore is it the duty of every citizen to lend a helping hand and perform whatever service he may. Every resident of Washington, whether a home owner or tenant, is appealed to remove the snow from in front of his premises.

The city can not compel a citizen to remove snow from in front of his house. In a situation such as now exists in Washington, a citizen should need no compelling.

It is his moral and civic duty to lend a hand. Do it the first thing today.

Washington Post, Jan 29, 1922

Automotive Options in 1922

Readers familiar with present-day D.C. government services should take heart: The city's capacity for snow plowing and removal remains on par with experience from 80 years ago. On a different note, the driver of this car surely lamented his failure to roll up his windows -- if in fact this ragtop was equipped roll-up windows.

["Ragtop" is a synonym for convertible -- a body style that didn't really exist until closed cars became the norm in the 1930s. This is an open-bodied roadster. Generally speaking, the only cars back then with roll-up windows were closed-body styles with fixed tops, as opposed to roadsters and touring cars with folding tops. Which might have had snap-on side curtains. - Dave]

Knickerbocker Blizzard

This storm became known as the "Knickerbocker Blizzard" because of the collapse of the Knickerbocker movie theater roof from the weight of the accumulated snow. Ninety-eight moviegoers were killed and another 133 injured.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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