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Major Winter Storms of the Past


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Hi everyone,

Thought I’d create a catch-all thread to post, and discuss, some of the most significant winter storms to affect the Southeast U.S. states.  
 

With that in mind, I intend to share details regarding many of the historic snow storms that have battered the SE…dating as far back as the 19th century.  
 

Moreover, I look forward to reading first-hand accounts of the most memorable events you’ve experienced, first-hand.  

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I’ll begin with a reminder that “It’s not over until it’s over”… as those who bore witness to a major winter storm during the early Spring of 1983, can attest.  

March 24-25, 1983:

Thus far, I’ve had difficulty finding details regarding this particular storms development and the specific track of the surface low as it moved briskly NE off the SE coastline.  That aside, it was a major winter storm that delivered snow totals of 10-12” to a few locations in GA, SC, and NC.  In addition, portions of East Central AL saw amounts up to 6”. 
 

Due to its precise track and rapid intensification, the coastal plain of NC received the brunt of the storm.  Thundersnow accompanied the heaviest rates and wind gusts of 50-70 mph were fairly common along the shoreline.  A peak wind gust of 87 mph was recorded in Carteret County. These strong winds combined with the heavy, wet snow to cause numerous downed trees, widespread power outages, and even some sporadic structural damage.  
 

Snowfall Totals:

North Carolina:

Tarboro, NC: 12.0” 

Charlotte, NC: 10.3”

Edenton, NC: 10.3”  

Lumberton, NC: 10.0” 

Mt. Mitchell, NC: 9.0” 

Tryon, NC: 8.0” 

Clinton, NC: 8.0”

Raleigh, NC: 7.3”  

Albemarle, NC: 7.2” 

Elizabeth City, NC: 7.0” 

Concord, NC: 7.0” 

Wilson 3 SW, NC: 7.0” 

Smithfield, NC: 7.0” 

Greenville, NC: 6.9” 

Longwood, NC: 6.0”

Jackson Springs 5 WNW, NC: 6.0” 

Ft. Bragg, NC: 6.0” 

Asheboro, NC: 5.6” 

Kinston, NC: 5.5” 

Fayetteville, NC: 5.0” 

Laurinburg, NC: 5.0” 

Highlands, NC: 5.0” 

Washington, NC: 5.0” 

Wilmington, NC: 5.0” (4.2” at the airport)

South Carolina:

Catawba, SC: 10.0” 

Greenville, SC: 9.3” 

Gaffney 6 E, SC: 8.0” (snow depth on 25th)  

Santuck, SC: 8.0” 

Myrtle Beach, SC: 7.0” 

Antreville, SC: 7.0” 

Pickens, SC: 7.0” 

Chester, SC: 7.0” 

Calhoun Falls, SC: 7.0” 

Ware Shoals, SC: 7.0” 

Wallhalla, SC: 6.0” 

West Pelzer, SC: 5.0” 

Georgia:

Elberton, GA: 10.0” (snow depth on 25th) 

Athens, GA: 8.7” 

Atlanta, GA: 7.9” 

Jonesboro, GA: 6.5” (25th, no data on 24th)

Blairsville, GA: 5.5” 

Alabama:

Ashland 3 ENE: 5.8” 

Heflin, AL: 5.5” 

Lafayette, AL: 5.0” (snow depth on 24th) 

References:

NC State Climate Office

https://products.climate.ncsu.edu/weather/winter/event/?e=104

NWS Climate Database

https://www.weather.gov/wrh/Climate?wfo=ilm

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The storm I will always remember is 2/18/1979. (President's day storm 1).  I was a freshman at Catawba College in Salisbury.  Storm was on a Sunday.  We had a stout NE wind even on Saturday and very cold temps for that time of the year.  Storm was way underforecast in amounts.  When I woke up Sunday morning, we had heavy snow already (arrived before forecast) and temps in the 20's.  We had heavy snow until mid-afternoon on the 18th and by noon temps were already in the low teens and the wind stayed strong from the NE all day.  Just incredible cold temps, wind, and snow for that time of year.  We ended up with 9 inches but of course DC and BALT areas got way more than that.  We had a stout warmup the following week so that most of the snow was gone by Friday.

 

https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/mwre/109/7/1520-0493_1981_109_1542_tpdsof_2_0_co_2.xml#:~:text=On 18–19 February 1979,the intensity of the event.

https://www.inquirer.com/news/blizzard-presidents-day-philadelphia-washington-atlantic-city-20190218.html

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I’m currently completely extensive research into one of the most extreme blizzards to ever impact the Southeastern states of the U.S.  An event that still holds the snowfall of record in numerous counties from E TX to VA.  
 

Consequently, I look forward to sharing the details of this truly historic storm system in the coming days.  In the meantime, I want to wish each member of our sub forum a wonderful rest of the weekend!  
 

Tony

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The next system I want to discuss was an historical winter storm (and blizzard for many areas) that delivered record snowfall accumulations, and was followed by one of the most severe cold waves the Deep South has ever endured!  

January 22-25, 1940 Blizzard:  

During the late evening hours of 1/22/1940, an area of low pressure began bringing heavy snowfall to eastern portions of Texas.  Over the subsequent 60 hours, it continued its trek eastward across the Southeast U.S., before ultimately moving NE offshore of the SE coastline.  In doing so, it delivered record snowfall totals to 38 separate counties, from E TX to VA…that still stand to this very day!

The northern and central parts of Alabama were battered by a terrific blizzard, which set the state record for snowfall accumulation of 22” in the small town of Reform.  Likewise, this historic winter storm/blizzard remains the storm of record for the cities of Atlanta, GA (8.3”), Athens, GA (9.8”), Natchez, MS (9.5”), and Richmond, VA (21.6”).  Some localities in the Atlanta suburbs actually saw amounts in excess of 10”.  

Although it was a generational weather event for the majority of the Southeastern states, the absolute brunt of its effects were felt in the southern and central portions of Virginia.  There, the exceptionally heavy snowfall rates, strong winds, and very low temperatures combined to produce blinding white-out conditions and a tremendous blizzard!  Peak wind gusts were recorded at 62 mph and sustained gale-force winds were widespread across this entire region…leading to wind chill values of well below zero in many locations.  The hardest hit area was centered on Farmville, VA…where two feet of snow and drifts upwards of 6 feet were observed!  

Bitter Artic air was already in place preceding this epic winter storm and had set the stage for the extraordinary blizzard conditions that followed.  In its aftermath, a reinforcing blast of cold, Artic air spilled down into these same localities…which even brought sub-freezing temperatures all the way down to Miami, FL!  The following low temperatures were recorded as a result:  

Miami, FL: 28° * 
Tallahassee, FL: 15° 
Alexandria, LA: 8°

Houston, TX: 5° * (Hobby AP)
Natchez, MS: 4° 
Atlanta, GA: 4° 
Birmingham, AL: 1°
Anderson, SC: 0°
Dallas, TX: 0° *
Calhoun Falls, SC: -2° *
Hartwell, GA: -5° *
Port Gibson, MS: -5° * 
Forest, MS: -5° *
Henderson, NC: -8° * 
St. Joseph, LA: -8° * 
Salisbury, NC: -11° *
Richmond, VA: -12° *
Brevard, NC: -15°  
Farmville, VA: -16° * 
Blairsville, GA: -16° * 

*Current ‘all-time’ record lows 

Many rivers and streams were frozen solid throughout the Deep South, as the historic cold wave lasted for virtually the entire month of January 1940.  Consequently, the period of 1/18 through 1/31, 1940 remains the lowest two-week mean average temperature ever observed in Birmingham, AL (22.5°).  

In all, the combination of record-setting snowfall totals, severe blizzard conditions, and extreme cold temperatures make the late January blizzard of 1940 one of the greatest (if not the greatest) winter storms to ever lay siege to the Southeast region of the United States!  

Snowfall Totals:

Virginia: 

Randolph 5 NNE: 25.0” (County record) 

Kenbridge: 25.0” (County record) 

Farmville 2 N: 24.0” (County record) 

Bremo Bluff: 23.0” (County record) 

Columbia 2 SSE: 23.0” (County record) 

Walkerton 2 NW: 22.3” (County record) 

Richmond: 21.6” (County record) 

Danville: 20.0” 

Chatham: 20.0” 

Powhatan: 19.5” (County record) 

Tappahannock: 18.0” (County record) 

Crozier: 18.0” 

Appomattox: 16.0” 

Dalhgrens Weapons Lab: 15.3” (County record) 

Williamsburg 2 NW: 15.0” (County record) 

Hopewell: 14.3” 

Emporia 1 WNW: 14.2” (County record) 

Burkes Garden: 13.0” 

Lynchburg: 11.0” 

Pennington Gap: 10.5” 

Lexington: 10.1” 

Hot Springs: 9.0” 

Roanoke: 9.0” 

Whytheville 1 S: 9.0” 

Martinsville Flt: 7.5” 

Rocky Mount: 7.5” 

Pedlar Dam: 7.0” 

Blacksburg: 6.6” 

Bueno Vista: 6.0” 

Norfolk: 5.8” 

Alabama: 

Reform: 22.0” (State record) 

Gorgas: 18.0” (County record) 

Cullman (St. Bernard): 14.2” (County record) 

Boaz: 14.0” (County record) 

Valley Head: 14.0” 

Fayette: 14.0” 

Ethelsville: 14.0” 

Fort Payne: 13.0” 

Oneonta :12.5” 

Vernon: 12.5” (County record) 

Carbon Hill: 12.0” 

Anniston: 11.0” 

Winfield 2 SW: 10.1” 

Decatur: 10.0” 

Birmingham: 9.5” (snow depth of 10”) 

Guntersville: 9.2” 

Scottsboro: 9.0” 

Haleyville: 9.0” 

Gadsden: 9.0” or 12.0” ???

Leeds: 8.0” 

Talladega: 8.0” 

Clanton: 8.0” 

Calera: 7.1” 

Bridgeport 5 NW: 8.0” 

Huntsville: 5.5” 

Tuscaloosa Olive: 5.0” 

North Carolina:  

Graham 2 ENE: 18.0” 

Greensboro: 14.0” 

Asheboro 2 W: 14.0” 

Siler City 2 N: 12.5” 

Tapoco: 12.2” 

Henderson 2 NNW: 12.0” 

Chapel Hill 2 W: 12.0” 

Durham: 12.0” 

Rodman: 11.0” 

Albemarle: 10.0” 

Louisburg: 10.0” 

Randleman: 10.0” 

Hendersonville: 9.0” 

Shelby 2 NNE: 9.0” 

Tryon: 9.0” 

Brevard: 8.5” 

Mocksville 5 SE: 8.5” 

Murphy: 8.2” 

Waynesville 1 E: 7.8” 

Statesville 2 N: 7.0” 

Highlands: 7.0” 

Morganton: 7.0” 

Pisgah Forest 1 N: 7.0” 

Charlotte: 6.8” 

Arcola: 6.5” 

Salisbury: 6.5” 

North Wilkesboro: 6.5” 

Mt Mitchell: 6.3” 

Lenoir: 6.2” 

Jefferson 2 E: 6.0” 

Marion 2 NW: 6.0” 

Cullowhee: 6.0” 

Asheville: 5.8” 

Raleigh: 5.5” 

Enfield: 5.5” 

Mt Airy: 5.5” 

Gastonia: 5.5” 

Mississippi: 

Louisville: 15.0” (County record) 

Columbus : 14.0” (23/24) 

Macon 2 NE: 12.5” (County record)

Forest: 11.5” (County record) 

Jackson: 10.5” (22nd/23rd) 

Crystal Sprg Exp: 10.5” 

Kosciusko: 10.0” 

State University: 10.0” 

Walnut Grove 2 S: 10.0” 

Natchez: 9.5” (County record)

Port Gibson 1 NE: 9.0” 

Canton 4 N: 8.7” 

Tupelo: 8.0” (24th) 

Aberdeen: 8.0” 

Water Valley: 8.0” 

Leakesville: 7.9” 

Eupora 2 E: 7.5” 

Pontotoc: 7.5” 

Boonesville: 7.0” 

Grenada 5 NNE: 7.0” 

Corinth 7 SW: 7.0” 

University: 6.0” 

Greenville: 6.0” 

Belzoni: 6.0” 

Stoneville Exp S: 5.8” 

Moorhead: 5.4” 

Tennessee:  

Rogersville: 15.0” 

Loudon 1 E: 14.0” (County record)

Copperhill: 12.0” (County record) 

Charleston: 10.2” (County record)

Kingsport: 9.5” 

Knoxville: 9.4” 

Tiptonville: 9.0” (County record) 

Chattanooga: 8.2” 

Gatlinburg: 8.0” 

Monteagle: 7.1” 

Savannah 6 SW: 7.0” 

Selmar: 7.0” 

Bristol: 6.0” 

Greenville: 6.0”  

Crossville: 6.0” 

Monterey: 6.0” 

Sewanee: 6.0” 

Murfreesboro 5 N: 5.9” 

Covington 3 SW: 5.5” 

Lewisburg: 5.5” 

Mc Minnville: 5.0” 

Kingston: 5.0” 

Bolivar water works: 5.0” 

Dickson: 5.0” (snow depth on 23rd) 

Jackson Exp station: 5.0” 

Cookeville: 5.0” 

Nashville: 4.9” 

Georgia:  

Dalton: 14.5” (County record) 

Chickamauga: 13.5” (23rd) 

Summerville: 13.0” (County record) 

Dahlonega 4 WSW: 12.5” 

Cornelia: 11.2” (County record) 

Gainesville: 11.0”

Cumming 2 N: 10.8” (County record) 

Taylorsville: 10.5” 

Rome: 10.5” 

Atlanta Kirkwood: 10.0” (County record) 

Norcross: 10.0” (County record) 

Carlton Brg: 10.0” (County record) 

Athens: 9.8” (County record) 

Cedartown: 9.5” 

Clayton: 9.5” 

Newnan 5 N: 9.0” (County record) 

Cartersville: 8.5” 

Atlanta: 8.3” (County record) 

Toccoa: 8.2” 

Hartwell: 7.5” 

Carrollton: 6.8” 

Ellijay: 6.5” 

Blairsville Exp: 6.0” 

Talbotton: 4.0” 

Sparta: 4.0” (County record) 

Louisiana: 

St Joseph 3 N: 10.8” (County record) 

Tallulah: 9.1” 

Alexandria: 8.2” 

De Ridder: 8.0” 

Calhoun Res station: 7.0” 

Leesville: 6.5” 

Natchitoches: 6.5” 

Lake Providence: 6.0” 

Bastrop: 5.3” 

Logansport: 3.8” 

Baton Rouge: 3.5” 

Lake Charles: 3.4” 

South Carolina:

Anderson: 9.5” 

Walhalla: 9.0” 

Clemson: 8.5” 

Caesars Head: 8.0” 

Santuck: 7.2” 

Ware Shoals: 7.1” 

Greenville: 6.9” 

Calhoun Falls: 6.4” 

Catawba: 6.0” 

Fort Mill 4 NW: 6.0” 

Laurens: 6.0” 

Chester 1 NW: 6.0” 

Woodruff: 5.8” 

Chesnee 7 WNW: 5.0” 

Texas: 

Bon Weir: 8.0” (County record) 

Lufkin Angelina AP: 5.0” 

Dallas: 4.0” 

Longview: 4.0” 

Center: 4.0” 

Dialville 2 W: 4.0” 

Tyler: 3.5” 

Houston: 3.0” 

Henderson: 3.0” 

Gilmer 4 WSW: 3.0” 

Marshall: 3.0” 

Mt Pleasant: 3.0”  

References:  

NCDC Winter Weather Extremes:

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/snowfall-extremes/FL/1

 NWS Local Climate Data: 

https://www.weather.gov/wrh/Climate?wfo=akq

PlantMaps (.com) Record Temp Data:

https://www.plantmaps.com/virginia-record-high-and-low-temperature-map.php

WKRN (Nashville, TN) article on frozen River: 

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wkrn.com/special-reports/why-doesnt-the-cumberland-river-freeze-over-anymore/amp/

AlabamaWx Weather Blog Article:

https://www.alabamawx.com/?p=784  

Additional Reading:

Atlanta Journal Constitution Article:  

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ajc.com/news/local/atlanta-worst-snowstorm-wasn-snowmageddon-snowjam-the-blizzard/S15Wm9pP966z5sCr5Ri6XL/%3foutputType=amp

Farmville Herald Article: 

https://www.farmvilleherald.com/2020/12/the-great-blizzard-of-1940-stranded-by-snow-and-saved-by-a-mule/

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1 hour ago, Justicebork said:

What really stands out about the 1940 storm is that Durham got 12” while Raleigh got 5.5”. Color me shocked.


.

Interestingly, that was also the case for the March 1-2, 1980 winter storm that delivered blizzard conditions to the coastlines of NC and southern VA.  In it, Durham recorded 15”, while Raleigh received a total accumulation of 11.1”.

Ironically, it is the winter storm event that I’ve been currently researching.  Once completed, I will provide greater details regarding this historic event for the eastern parts of NC and southern VA.   

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On 2/20/2022 at 10:10 AM, ncforecaster89 said:

Interestingly, that was also the case for the March 1-2, 1980 winter storm that delivered blizzard conditions to the coastlines of NC and southern VA.  In it, Durham recorded 15”, while Raleigh received a total accumulation of 11.1”.

Ironically, it is the winter storm event that I’ve been currently researching.  Once completed, I will provide greater details regarding this historic event for the eastern parts of NC and southern VA.   

Please do. I lived in Virginia Beach at the time and that was my first true blizzard.

 

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