12/22/11 Weather of Christmas Past - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

12/22/11 Weather of Christmas Past

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PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV

By Ken Batty

 

 

...THE HISTORY OF PAST CHRISTMAS WEATHER...

AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR...MANY PEOPLE DREAM OF A WHITE

CHRISTMAS. YET...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS IT IS

UNCOMMON FOR MOST WEST VIRGINIANS TO WAKE UP CHRISTMAS

MORNING TO A BLANKET OF SNOW AT LEAST 1 INCH IN DEPTH.

THE SAME HOLDS TRUE FOR RESIDENTS OF SOUTHEAST OHIO...

NORTHEAST KENTUCKY...AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA.

AT ELEVATIONS LESS THAN 2 THOUSAND FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL...PAST

CHRISTMAS MORNINGS HAVE BEEN WHITE ONLY ABOUT 20 PERCENT

OF THE TIME. THIS WOULD INCLUDE THE MAJORITY OF THE LARGER

CITIES. HERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO SAY THE SAME THING...WEATHER

RECORDS TELL US THAT FOR EVERY 10 CHRISTMAS MORNINGS...ABOUT 2

HAD SNOW ON THE GROUND AT DAWN.

 

HEADING EAST FROM THE NEW RIVER VALLEY...PAST CHRISTMAS

MORNINGS HAVE BEEN WHITE ONLY ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF THE TIME IN

THE ROANOKE/SALEM REGION OF VIRGINIA ON NORTH TO INCLUDE

THE MARTINSBURG REGION IN WEST VIRGINIA`S EASTERN PANHANDLE.

THE CHANCES OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS INCREASE DRASTICALLY OVER THE

MOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA. AT ELEVATIONS OVER 3 THOUSAND

FEET...ABOUT 7 OF EVERY 10 CHRISTMAS MORNINGS HAVE BEEN

WHITE...OR NEARLY 70 PERCENT OF THE TIME.

 

CONTINUOUS WEATHER SERVICE RECORDS FOR THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS

ONLY DATE BACK TO THE LATE 18 HUNDREDS. YET...THESE RECORDS

STILL SHOW QUITE A VARIETY OF WEATHER FOR CHRISTMAS DAY.

LOOKING AT THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES...IT`S IRONIC THAT THE

WARMEST CHRISTMAS WAS FOLLOWED BY THE COLDEST.

THE WARMEST TEMPERATURE FOR DECEMBER 25TH IN WEST VIRGINIA

AND VIRGINIA WAS IN 1982. BOTH HUNTINGTON AND CHARLESTON

REGISTERED A BALMY 76 DEGREES IN 1982. IN VIRGINIA...THE

WARMEST TEMPERATURE WAS 78 DEGREES FROM ABINGDON OF WASHINGTON

COUNTY.

 

ANOTHER UNUSUALLY WARM CHRISTMAS WAS FELT IN 1964.

WILLIAMSON AND LOGAN HAD 75 DEGREES ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1964.

THE WARMEST IN VIRGINIA IN 1964...WAS ALSO 75 DEGREES...FROM

NORFOLK.

 

THE COLDEST CHRISTMAS TEMPERATURES ENDURED IN BOTH WEST

VIRGINIA AND VIRGINIA WERE IN 1983. SNOWSHOE OF POCAHONTAS

COUNTY MEASURED 26 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THAT YEAR. THIS

SHATTERED THE PREVIOUS LOW RECORD OF 14 BELOW ZERO AT

REEDSVILLE OF PRESTON COUNTY HELD SINCE CHRISTMAS

1935. THE COLDEST CHRISTMAS TEMPERATURE IN VIRGINIA WAS 20

DEGREES BELOW ZERO IN 1983. THIS FRIGID REPORT WAS FROM

MOUNTAIN LAKE OF GILES COUNTY.

ANOTHER VERY COLD CHRISTMAS DAY IN WEST VIRGINIA WAS IN 1980

WHEN DAWN READINGS WERE ON EITHER SIDE OF THE ZERO MARK.

IN 1989...ARCTIC SUB ZERO TEMPERATURES WERE ENDURED FROM

THE 21ST INTO THE 24TH. GLADY AND CHEAT BRIDGE WERE 33 DEGREES

BELOW ZERO ON THE 24TH. IN SOUTHEAST OHIO...ATHENS WAS 27 BELOW

ZERO ON THE 22ND. HOWEVER...THE EXTREME COLD EXITED BY

CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1989. IN ITS WAKE...MOST RIVERS WERE FROZEN

SOLID FOR THE HOLIDAY.

 

NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR DECEMBER 25TH ARE LOWS IN THE 20S

AND HIGH READINGS IN THE UPPER 30S TO LOWER 40S.

TURNING OUR ATTENTION TO SNOW DEPTHS...THE MOST SNOW REPORTED

ON THE GROUND AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING WAS 27 INCHES AT

SPRUCE KNOB IN 1963. IN VIRGINIA...THE MOST SNOW ON THE GROUND

AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS WAS 13 INCHES FROM BIG MEADOWS OF MADISON

COUNTY IN 1966.

 

CHRISTMAS 1935 WAS WHITE AND COLD FOR A LOT OF WEST VIRGINIA.

THE COLD AIR STARTED RUSHING IN DURING CHRISTMAS EVE...DUMPING

A FEW INCHES OF SNOW. CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1935 FOLLOWED WITH

SNOW SHOWERS AND EVEN COLDER TEMPERATURES. QUOTING OLD

WEATHER BUREAU RECORDS FOR DECEMBER 1935, "DURING THE

AFTERNOON AND EVENING OF THE 25TH, A SEVERE BLIZZARD FOLLOWED

A WIND SHIFT LINE, PREVAILED OVER THE STATE, ATTENDED BY HIGH

WINDS, ZERO TEMPERATURES, AND HEAVY SNOWFALL." /END OF QUOTE/

IN 1996...A WEATHER RADIO LISTENER IN HUNTINGTON TOLD US HIS

RECOLLECTIONS...WHICH AGREE WITH THE PRECEDING QUOTE. HE

HAD 4 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND CHRISTMAS MORNING IN

1935...THEN AT 4 PM IT GOT REAL DARK. HE SAID A SNOW SQUALL

DUMPED 5 INCHES OF SNOW IN ABOUT AN HOUR...WITH TEMPERATURES

FALLING BELOW ZERO.

 

THE COLD DECEMBER OF 1963 PRODUCED FREQUENT LIGHT SNOWS AND

A PROLONG SNOW COVERING OF A FEW INCHES.

IN 1966...A DEVELOPING COASTAL STORM BLANKETED MUCH OF WEST

VIRGINIA WITH SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW FROM LATE ON THE 23RD INTO

THE 24TH. THIS RESULTED IN THE DEEPEST SNOW COVER FOR CHRISTMAS

MORNING FOR SEVERAL COMMUNITIES IN WEST VIRGINIA FROM THE

INTERSTATE 79 CORRIDOR ON EAST AND SOUTH.

 

MANY BABY BOOMERS CAN RECALL THE SNOW ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN

1969. HOWEVER, THAT "NOR-EASTER" STARTED A BIT LATE TO AFFECT

THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS BY DAWN. THE SNOW STARTED DURING THE

MID MORNING TO NOON TIME PERIOD ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA AND

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA ON THAT CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1969. THE SNOW

CONTINUED THROUGHOUT CHRISTMAS NIGHT AND INTO THE NEXT DAY. FIVE

TO 10 INCHES OF NEW SNOW WAS COMMON ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA. EVEN

MORE SNOW FELL IN THE MOUNTAINS AND EASTERN PANHANDLE.

MARTINSBURG HAD A FOOT OF SNOW ON THE GROUND BY DAWN ON THE

26TH. ROANOKE VIRGINIA STARTED CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1969 WITH

NO SNOW ON THE GROUND. BY DAWN ON THE 26TH...ROANOKE HAD 15

INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND.

 

THE COLD DECEMBER OF 1989 PRODUCED A WHITE CHRISTMAS THROUGHOUT

THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS ALONG WITH FROZEN RIVERS.

A LACK OF SNOW WAS SEEN FOR THE 3 YEARS FROM 2006 THROUGH 2008.

2008 WAS THE THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR OF NO SNOW ANYWHERE IN THE

MOUNTAIN STATE EVEN ACROSS THE HIGH MOUNTAINS. THAT WAS VERY

UNUSUAL FOR WEST VIRGINIA.

 

LAST YEAR...IN 2010...AFTER A WARM OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER...IT TURNED

SHARPLY COLDER IN DECEMBER WITH FREQUENT ROUNDS OF SNOW. DECEMBER

2010 WAS AMONG THE TOP TEN COLDEST DECEMBERS FOR MANY WEST VIRGINIA

TOWNS. ACCUMULATING SNOW WAS NOTED ON THE 4TH AND 5TH IN ONE STORM.

CLOUDS AND SNOW SHOWERS WERE FREQUENT DURING THE 2ND WEEK OF

DECEMBER IN 2010. ANOTHER SNOW STORM HIT ON THE 15TH INTO THE 16TH

WITH 3 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW COMMON. THE CLOUDS AND COLD

TEMPERATURES CONTINUED THROUGH THE WINTER SOLSTICE. ON DECEMBER

24TH IN 2010 SOME SUNSHINE BROKE THROUGH THE CLOUDS. AFTERNOON

TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE MID 20S TO LOWER 30S. OLD SNOW COVER WAS

STILL 1 TO 3 INCHES IN DEPTH IN THE HUNTINGTON...PARKERSBURG...

CLARKSBURG...CHARLESTON AREA. HOWEVER...THE OLD SNOW HAD

DISAPPEARED IN THE SOUTHERN COAL FIELDS AROUND WILLIAMSON. THERE

WAS NO SNOW ON THE GROUND CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE FAR EASTERN

PANHANDLE...AROUND CHARLES TOWN AND MARTINSBURG. CLOUDS THICKENED

FROM THE WEST CHRISTMAS EVE...WITH LIGHT SNOW DEVELOPING WHEN

SANTA WAS ARRIVING IN WEST VIRGINIA. THE SNOW DID NOT REACH THE

EASTERN PANHANDLE UNTIL AROUND DAWN. ONE TO 2 INCHES OF NEW SNOW

FELL BY DAWN IN MUCH OF WEST VIRGINIA...EXCEPT IN PARTS OF THE 2

PANHANDLES. WHEELING AND MARTINSBURG DID NOT HAVE AN INCH OF SNOW

ON THE GROUND AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS IN 2010. OTHERWISE...MOST

AREAS HAD SNOW ON THE GROUND.

 

THE DEEPEST SNOW ON THE GROUND AT

DAWN IN 2010 WAS 14 INCHES ON THE MOUNTAINTOP NEAR RICHWOOD AND AT

CANAAN VALLEY. TERRA ALTA...MCROSS...AND SNOWSHOE HAD 13 INCHES ON

THE GROUND. A FOOT OF SNOW WAS ON THE GROUND NEAR DAVIS. A SNOW

COVER OF 1 TO 3 INCHES WERE COMMON OVER THE WESTERN

LOWLANDS...INCLUDING PARKERSBURG...MORGANTOWN...CLARKSBURG...

CHARLESTON...AND WILLIAMSON. ONE TO 3 INCHES OF SNOW WAS ALSO

COMMON IN NORTHEAST KENTUCKY AND SOUTHEAST OHIO. FOR

EXAMPLE...ASHLAND HAD ONE INCH...GRAYSON 2 INCHES...OLIVE HILL 4

INCHES...AND ATHENS OHIO HAD 2 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND. IN

SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA...CLINTWOOD HAD 5 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE

GROUND...WHILE NORA AND THE BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK HAD 4 INCHES OF

SNOW ON THE GROUND AT DAWN IN CHRISTMAS 2010. THE EARLY MORNING

SNOW DECREASED QUICKLY IN MOST OF WEST VIRGINIA EARLY CHRISTMAS

MORNING. TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE 20S. SOME FLAKES OF SNOW FELL

DURING THE DAY...WHILE HEAVY SNOW FELL TO OUR SOUTH...IN WESTERN

AND NORTHERN NORTH CAROLINA. AFTERNOON TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE

20S TO AROUND 30 ON CHRISTMAS DAY LAST YEAR.

 

THE COLD PATTERN LINGERED A FEW MORE DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS IN

2010...WITH ROUNDS OF SNOW SHOWERS.

THE FOLLOWING IS SPECIFIC DATA FOR SEVERAL TOWNS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.

TEMPERATURE FACTS GO BACK INTO THE EARLY 1900S. MAXIMUM SNOW DEPTH

FOR DAWN CHRISTMAS DAY IS SINCE 1950. WHITE CHRISTMAS IS DEFINED

HERE, AS AT LEAST HAVING A SNOW COVER OF AN INCH AT DAWN. SOME

SITES LISTED HAVE NOT MAINTAINED CONTINUOUS RECORDS.

MOST SNOW LAST 3 WHITE

RECORD HIGH RECORD LOW ON GRND CHRISTMAS

CITY TEMP YEAR TEMP YEAR AT DAWN MRNGS/7AM

CHARLESTON 76 1982 MINUS 10 1983 5 1966 2010/1999/95

ELKINS 68 1982 MINUS 17 1983 8 1969 2010/09/03

HUNTINGTON 76 1982 MINUS 9 1983 4 1963 2010/1993/89

PARKERSBURG 70 1982 MINUS 10 1983 5 1963 2010/1993/89

BECKLEY 66 1982 MINUS 15 1983 13 1963 2010/09/03

BLUEFIELD 64 1982 MINUS 13 1983 9 2009 2010/09/03

MARTINSBURG 67 1964 MINUS 12 1983 6 2009 2009/02/00

MORGANTOWN 71 1982 MINUS 13 1983 3 2009/1995 2010/09/00

AND 1989

CLARKSBURG 72 1982 MINUS 11 1983 6 2009 2010/09/00

WELLSBURG/ 66 1964 MINUS 10 1983 6 1963 2000/1995/93

WESTON 70 1964 MINUS 11 1983 6 2009 2010/09/00

 

LOOKING AT THE TABLE...LAST YEAR...2010...WAS THE FIRST WHITE

CHRISTMAS IN 17 YEARS FOR HUNTINGTON AND PARKERSBURG...AND THE

FIRST IN 15 YEARS AT ATHENS OHIO.

 

THIS YEAR...2011...AFTER AN EARLY TASTE OF SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS ON

THE 1ST OF OCTOBER...NOVEMBER WAS WET WITH PLENTY OF RAIN. THE

MONTHLY AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS SOME 3 TO 4 DEGREES WARMER THAN

NORMAL IN NOVEMBER 2011. A 2 TO 6 INCH SNOW OCCURRED ON DECEMBER 7TH

ACROSS THE MOUNTAINOUS COUNTIES. HOWEVER...MANY RESIDENTS OF THE

LOWLANDS HAVE NOT SEEN A FLAKE OF SNOW THROUGH THE 15TH OF DECEMBER.