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March 3: It's the most exciting date in winter?

March 3: It's the most exciting date in winter?

Last Friday, we went into what was the statisticaly most boring date in Seattle's winter history. As in -- what date has missed all the snowstorms, windstorms, bitter cold snaps and heavy rain events.

But how about the other way: What date has Mother Nature picked on the most to hurl her winter fury?

The answer, I bet, is going to shock you. Here's a hint: It's not in December or January.

Again, when I started the research I initially chose the period between November 1 and February 28 because those four months are the heart of the stormy season in Seattle.

I considered records from both Sea-Tac Airport and the Downtown Federal Building, which stretches back into the 1890s, but heavily weighted Sea-Tac's numbers since I had access to most of its data.

(Note: Believe it or not, there are no recorded daily snowfall totals for Sea-Tac Airport between late 1996 and 2003. NOAA at first decided to do away with the snow measurements in 1996, then reinstated it in 2003.)


I wanted a date that seemed to have at least a good windstorm, snow event, rain event and some frequency to the stormy weather.

But a funny thing happened on the way through the research: No one day really stood out. There are a lot of days with windstorms, and a lot of days with rain storms and big snows. Yet there never seemed to be a date where the storms conglomerated. It seems each storm would pick a new date to pester each time. 

For example, January 13 has the biggest snow in Seattle history, but aside from that, it hasn't snowed that often, it has a few rainy days, and no wind storms.

December 15 has had two major wind storms in its history, including the devastating Hanukah Eve Storm in 2006. But only 1.2" of snow has fallen on that date.

November 20 has some really wet days, but only had two years with snow (one 5.2" in 1960) and no real wind.

What to do? I was about to abandon the idea and just declare a three way tie or something.

But then, I looked a little beyond my initial calendar settings. And lo and behold, there was the magical date.

On this date, it has snowed 7 times at Sea-Tac since 1948 -- tied with two other dates for the most frequent dates with measurable snow -- and includes three years with 3" or more.

In 1903, it rained 2.57" on this date, good for 6th wettest day ever at the Federal Building. In 1950, it rained 2.03" on this date at Sea-Tac Airport, and it's had two other dates with more than 3/4" of an inch.

And in 1999, a major wind storm blew through with gusts to 60 mph in Seattle and close to 70 mph along the Washington coast with a few reports over 90 mph on the northern Oregon coast. Its record low is 20 and that came on a year when it didn't snow on that date.

What is this stormy of stormiest dates, you ask? Let's just say it gives proof about a certain month coming in like a lion.

This magical stormy date is none other than...


March 3.

Yes, that would be nearly a week later in winter after the date I declared the most boring day in winter (Feb. 25).

Just goes to show that just when you think winter might be over as we head toward the end of February, it could still have quite the bag of tricks up its sleeve!