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Frosty Flashbacks

Wishing for More Wintry Weather? We Look Back at 10 Big UMD Snowstorms

By Annie Krakower

Students and Testudo in the snow

Photo by John T. Consoli

Students and Testudo enjoy the snow dropped by Winter Storm Jonas in 2016, one of several notable storms at UMD over the years.

Hopes for a campus winter wonderland were expected to melt into a slippery mess early this morning as light snow turned to sleet. But maybe memories of epic McKeldin Mall snowball fights, UMD-themed snowmen and dining hall-tray sledding can help Terps get their freezing fix.

Despite the mild season so far—until yesterday, it had been almost 700 days since D.C. last saw at least a half-inch of snow fall, according to the Capital Weather Gang—UMD is no stranger to severe wintry weather. Terps have braved blizzards from 1922’s “Knickerbocker” storm to 2010’s Snowmageddon to 2016’s Winter Storm Jonas—and several less trendily titled spates of snow in between.

Get into the snowy spirit by looking back on 10 such storms:

Diamondback collage of 1922 snow picturesMechanical Problems
The Knickerbocker storm dropped around 2½ feet of snow in College Park, according to archives of The Diamondback, hindering transportation between campus and the outside world for days. Many snowbound Terps canceled their social plans, and even the steadfast few who tried trekking to the train station eventually admitted defeat: “Nature had given her decree, and the mightiest of mechanical devices were forced to obey and cease operations.” (Photo courtesy of The Diamondback)


Diamondback page showing photo of female students skiing in 1936Ski Glee
A February 1936 storm transformed College Park into “a miniature Lake Placid” of sorts, The Diamondback posited. Terps—such as “co-eds” Elaine McClayton, Evelyn and Virginia Turner, and Ruth Punnett (above)—took advantage and strapped on their skis. (Photo courtesy of The Diamondback)


Two students walk in the snow in 1958Switching Gears
UMD’s earliest recorded snow day was in 1958, but notifying Terps was a bit more laborious than the emails and tweets of today, with “frantically busy switchboard operators confirming the news.” The Diamondback, which couldn’t publish for three days amid the reported 17 inches of snow, also noted spontaneous skating on campus streets, the postponement of sorority and fraternity rush and Miss Maryland interviews, and plenty of abandoned, buried cars. (Photo courtesy of 1958 Terrapin)


Snowy UMD campus photo from 1966Not Quite Registering
Campus closed again in 1966, when three storms at the end of January resulted in 18 inches of snow. Besides creating treacherous driving conditions and causing a North Campus power outage, the wintry weather also delayed class registration by two days and pushed back the start of the spring semester. (Photo courtesy of 1966 Terrapin)


Snow-buried car in 1983Tray Days
The Blizzard of 1983 stretched from Virginia to New England, dumping 21 inches on campus and canceling classes for two days. A snow-themed special edition of The Diamondback told tales of students itching to go “traying” on the golf course, but the dining hall trays also had another, less fun use: digging cars out of piles of snow. (Photo courtesy of 1983 Terrapin)


Students in a pile of snow in 1996Double Whammy
After the Blizzard of 1996 shut down campus for three days in early January, UMD reopened for one day before closing again the next due to even more snow. Although students were on winter break, the storm still impacted their plans, whether by replacing Florida vacations with snow shoveling, postponing Shuttle-UM driver training or prompting daylong MTV binges. (Photo courtesy of 1996 Terrapin)


Student snowboarding on campus in 2003Trading Baseballs for Snowballs
While three consecutive snow days sparked igloo-building and snowball fights on McKeldin Mall, the more than 14 inches from the Blizzard of 2003 in late February canceled other Terp competitions: Poor conditions at Shipley Field caused a trio of baseball games vs. St. Joseph’s to be called off, and the men’s and women’s lacrosse openers were postponed and moved, respectively. (Photo courtesy of 2003 Terrapin)


Student rides bike in the snow at UMD in 2005Always Delivering
Even though classes came to a halt for two days after a late February 2005 storm, food deliveries didn’t stop—in fact, sales boomed as hungry, hunkered-down Terps sought sustenance. Carriers from Jimmy John’s, Pita Pit, Domino’s and more braved the elements, sometimes making their own snowy adventures out of it. “I never fall on the way out, with the food,” bicycle deliveryman and economics major Bryan Goubeau told The Diamondback. “I fall on the way back, because I have a little more creativity with my riding.” (Photo courtesy of The Diamondback)


Students sledding on campus in 2010Record-breaking Blizzard
Foreboding forecasts led UMD to cancel classes “before a single flake hit the ground” in February 2010, according to that year’s Terrapin. That caution quickly proved warranted as Snowmageddon dumped more than two feet of snow, closing campus for a record six class days. Terps made the most of their time off, highlighted by a 1,000-student upper- vs. underclassmen snowball fight on McKeldin Mall. (Photo by John T. Consoli)


Testudo and students in the snow in 2016Snow-nas
Winter Storm Jonas unleashed around 19 inches of snow on campus in 2016, disrupting move-in and pushing the start of the spring semester back two days. Around 150 employees were assigned to quickly remove snow and ice from buildings around campus to prepare for returning Terps, and the snow was so heavy that some workers had to use Bobcat utility vehicles in front of plows, according to The Diamondback. (Photo by John T. Consoli)

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