St. Patrick’s Day: Wild Weather Ride

Instead of plenty of green on St. Patrick’s Day, much of the Mid-Atlantic woke up to a fresh coating of snow…

Credit: Mike Licht, Notions Capital via Flickr

St. Patrick’s Day snow covers a cherry blossom tree in Washington, D.C. Credit: Mike Licht, Notions Capital via Flickr

St. Patrick’s Day, observed on March 17, celebrates the life of a man who, legend has it, drove the snakes out of Ireland.


Falling just a few days before the vernal equinox, the weather associated with this holiday can vary greatly, ranging from warm and sunny to a major snow storm.

Credit - Patrise Henkel via FlickR

Credit – Patrise Henkel via FlickR

St. Patrick’s Day falls at the time of year when winter is coming to an end and spring is just getting started. Whenever there is a change of seasons like this, there’s a possibility for severe weather to develop. Cold air is still trying to funnel in from the north, while warmer air is trying to push in from the south. Wherever these two air masses collide, there lies a possibility for a storm to form.

The winter of 1891 – 1892 recorded almost no snowfall for the Nashville, Tenn. region. Things changed on March 13, when a strong cold front crashed into the South. About 5 inches of snow fell between March 14-15, and the snow began to melt on March 16. Nashville then celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a 17-inch snowfall that started in the early morning and continued throughout the day. In Memphis, 18 inches of snow fell, and the town of Riddleton, Tenn., received 26 inches! To this day, this storm still holds the daily snowfall record for Tennessee. 

Credit: jpmpinmontreal via FlickR

Credit: jpmpinmontreal via FlickR

The Volunteer State is not the only place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a snowstorm. Boston got into the act in 1956. Dubbed “St. Patrick’s big snow,” nearby Blue Hill Observatory recorded 12.6 inches of snow.

On the flip side, severe weather on St. Patrick’s Day is also a sign of an approaching astronomical spring. In fact, the warmer South has seen its share of nasty St. Patrick’s Day weather memories:

  • In 1985, Venice, Fla. awoke in the early-morning hours by a strong F3-tornado ripping through town. The tornado destroyed 55 homes and damaged 200 others. Two people were killed in the tornado and 45 others were injured.
  • In 1990, a slow-moving cold front crept across the Southeast, causing torrential rains. On March 17, areas across southern Alabama saw up to 16 inches of rain. Flooding across the Southeast killed 22 people. Elba, Ala. was flooded with 6 to 12 feet of water. Twenty-six Alabama counties were declared disaster areas with more than $100 million in damages.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday where everyone is Irish for a day… 

Credit: Cygnus 921 via Flickr

Credit: Cygnus 921 via Flickr

 But as you celebrate the holiday and wear your green, be wary of the skies!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The WeatherBug Team



This entry was posted in General, Holiday, When Weather Attacks!, Winter and tagged .