by Tom Ross, Meteorologist
The snowstorm on January 22-23 dropped between 11 and 14 inches of snow across the Fairview area, and was the eighth heaviest official snowfall on record. This was the most substantial snowfall in almost a year — since 9 or 10 inches fell in February 2015.
The January 2016 storm left a mantle of white from northern Alabama to across the northeastern states, many of which received 2 to 3 feet of snow. The record amount of snow from the January storm goes to Mount Mitchell, which picked up an incredible 66 inches of snow.
The chart below lists the greatest snowfalls for the area, based on data from Asheville city and airport, which has the longest continuous records back to 1869. However, there is also an unofficial snowfall of 26–33 inches reported on Dec. 5-6, 1886.
Looking ahead, last month I mentioned to be ready for some winter, and we certainly got it — temperatures well below normal for several weeks with a cold flow of air from central Canada. I believe that pattern will ease somewhat in March.
We also have time and the length of daylight on our side. In March, we gain almost an hour of daylight and increasing solar radiation. This addition starts our temperatures on an upward track, with normal highs and lows at 54° and 32° at the beginning of the month and rising to 63° and 37° by month’s end. Daylight Savings Time begins on March 13. However, remember that in March we can also get snow, as shown on this month’s chart. Still, any snow that falls in March usually melts quickly due to the increasing amount and duration of solar radiation.
Meteorologist Tom Ross managed NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program and was involved in educational and community outreach during his 25-year career at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville. He was a senior weather forecaster at Accu Weather in Pennsylvania. Tom currently teaches classes on weather and climate at various venues in Western North Carolina.