Southeast Student Witnessing Historic Snowfalls in Washington, D.C.


Photo of Brian Henders beside snow piled next to a light pole in Falls Church, Va., this week.

Brian Henderson beside snow piled beside a light pole in Falls Church, Va., this week. Henderson is six feet, two inches tall, and the snow is above his head.


Feb. 10, 2010 – When Southeast Missouri State University student Brian Henderson moved to the east coast for an internship with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., he had no idea he would witness some of the area’s largest snowstorms ever.

“It’s just incredible,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m from Arkansas. The most snow I’ve seen is about two inches.”

The Washington, D.C., area is being slammed today by another major blizzard after a record 32.4 inches of snow fell at Washington’s Dulles International Airport over the weekend. The weekend snowfall broke the Jan. 7-8, 1996, record of 23.3 inches.

The National Weather Service is predicting another 10 to 20 inches of snow for northern Virginia, eastern Maryland and Washington, D.C., continuing through today.

Henderson says his office has been closed since Monday in Washington. For now, all he can do is watch in wonder at the massive blizzard from the 23rd floor of his apartment building in Falls Church, Va., approximately 10 miles outside of the capitol. He says it is snowing so hard, it is difficult to see the building across the street.

“Everything is basically shut down.  Everyone seems to be experiencing cabin fever,” Henderson said.  “Most of the sidewalks are not shoveled so people have to walk around in the street.  There are some people out driving, but not many.  The snow is piled over my head, and I am 6’2”.  Cars are completely covered in snow from the snow drifts.”

Henderson says he luckily got out of work at 1 p.m. Friday afternoon on Feb. 5 before the first storm hit.  He said he returned to his apartment shortly before the bus system shut down due to the weather.

He says he’s not sure when he’ll be able to return to his internship because of the impact the weather has had on transportation. Typically, he said he catches a bus to the Pentagon and then connects with the Metro system into the city. His first stop on the Metro is in Arlington, Va., which is also where the Metro begins running above ground. Because of the weather conditions, the Metro is not currently running on routes above ground, he said.

Henderson, of Gosnell, Ark., plans to graduate in May from Southeast with a double major in pure and applied math and a minor in criminal justice. 

After just three weeks in his internship with CSIS and before the blizzards hit, Henderson said he has had the opportunity to see many influential national leaders present speeches, including National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair and David Abshire, who presides over the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

So far, Henderson has assisted in organizing events and is now preparing a simulation about cyber security for student seminars.

He was one of the Southeast students who participated in the week-long CSIS seminar during spring break last year.  While at the CSIS think tank, he talked with several interns who influenced him to complete an internship with CSIS as well. 

“The interns said it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and it was the greatest experience they had ever had,” Henderson said.  “I wanted to experience life in Washington, D.C., and work with CSIS.”

Before he began his internship, he was a math tutor for Learning Assistance Programs and Disability Support Services (LAPDSS) and the vice president of Southeast’s Math Club.  In his free time, Henderson enjoys riding horses.

He uses his own experience when he advises Southeast students to “take every opportunity available to you.  This is the time in your life when you can move across the country or across the world and receive an experience of a lifetime.”

Brian Henderson beside a car completely covered in snow, except for the side mirror, in Falls Church, Va.