Snow in Virginia

in Virginia, counties closer to the Atlantic Ocean get less snow each year
in Virginia, counties closer to the Atlantic Ocean get less snow each year
Source: Library of Congress, "The national atlas of the United States of America," Snowfall

The higher elevations in Virginia are colder than the valley floors, the Piedmont, or the Coastal Plain. The precipitation at those elevations can be snow, while lower down rain hits the ground.

Though Grayson County is known as the "roof of Virginia," the jurisdiction with the greatest annual snowfall is on the Appalachian Plateau. Between 1985-2015, the average snowfall in Wise County exceeded 52 inches annually.1

Virginia Beach gets snow, but not often enough to invest in snow-removal equipment that could clear it away quickly. The city estimates it would need to purchase 300 more trucks to plow snow from every neighborhood. Plowing is feasible only when snow reaches a depth of two inches, and Virginia Beach anticipates that a fleet of snowplows would sit idle for years between storms that required plowing the streets.

When the city did get a 13-inch snowfall in March 1980, the governor mobilized the National Guard. It cleared neighborhood roads, but in the process the equipment broke side mirrs off parked cars, cracked windshields, and created piles of snow that blocked driveways. Rather than repeat that experience, the city has a snow removal plan based on using its own equipment to plow primarily the major highways.2

counties closer to the Atlantic Ocean get fewer days of snow each year, as well as fewer inches
counties closer to the Atlantic Ocean get fewer days of snow each year, as well as fewer inches
Source: Library of Congress, "The national atlas of the United States of America," Snowfall

Maximum snowfall in one day was over 36 inches at Round Hill in Loudoun County, in 2006. Only three other localities have received over 30 inches of snow in one day since documentation of climate records began at the end of the 19th Century.

the record Virginia snowfall within one day was over three feet at a Loudoun County weather station in 2006
the record Virginia snowfall within one day was over three feet at a Loudoun County weather station in 2006
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Snowfall Extremes

Most major snowstorms last two-three days. Big Meadows in Madison County holds the Virginia record for receiving the most snow over a three-day period. In the Blizzard of 1996 (January 6-8, 1996), 49" of snow fell.

Only two other places in Virginia have experienced over 40 inches of snow since documentation of climate records began at the end of the 19th Century. Those were Luray in Page County in 1994, and Riverton in Warren County in 1962. Big Meadows, Luray, and Riverton were also the other three places to receive over 30" of snow in just one day.3

only Madison, Warren and Page counties have experienced three-day snowfalls exceeding 40 inches
only Madison, Warren and Page counties have experienced three-day snowfalls exceeding 40 inches
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Snowfall Extremes

three-day snowfalls in the Coastal Plain are less than west of the Fall Line
three-day snowfalls in the Coastal Plain are less than west of the Fall Line
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Snowfall Extremes

The Blizzard of 1996 from January 6-8, 1996 shut down nearly all movement in Northern Virginia during the Saturday-Monday when snow fell. closing many schools and facilities for a week. The storn ranked as a "5" on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale.. At Dulles International Airport, 24.6 inches were recorded.

After a cold week, the snow melted rapidly on just one warm day. The resulting flood is counted as #6 on the list of major floods at Great Falls.4

the three-day Blizzard of 1996 (January 6-8, 1996) dropped over two feet of snow in many Virginia locations
the three-day Blizzard of 1996 (January 6-8, 1996) dropped over two feet of snow in many Virginia locations
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Regional Snowfall Index (RSI) Map

The Snowmageddon event on February 5-6, 2010 also paralyzed Northern Virginia. At Dulles, 32.4" fell. A year later, one resident shared the worst memory of the experience:5

...the terrible fights that erupted in our townhouse community over painfully excavated parking spaces. So much for the initial neighborliness & cooperation displayed during the first day of cleanup.

Ski Resorts in Virginia

sleet occurs in Northern Virginia when rain falls through a shallow mass of cold air blocked from moving west by the Blue Ridge
sleet occurs in Northern Virginia when rain falls through a shallow mass of cold air blocked from moving west by the Blue Ridge
National Weather Service, Mid Atlantic Winters

Links

the 1993 Storm of the Century affected the western half of Virginia primarily
the 1993 "Storm of the Century" affected the western half of Virginia primarily
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), On This Day: The 1993 Storm of the Century

the Virginia Department of Highways plows snow from public roads in all counties except Henrico and Arlington
the Virginia Department of Highways plows snow from public roads in all counties except Henrico and Arlington
Source: Virginia Department of Transportation, Blizzard of '09

snow melts slowly, recharging groundwater aquifers
snow melts slowly, recharging groundwater aquifers

References

1. "Take A Look At Life Inside Wise, The Snowiest Town In Virginia," Only In Your State, November 11, 2021, https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/virginia/snowiest-town-in-va-mountains/ (last checked December 1, 2021)
2. "Issue: Why Doesn't the City Buy Enough Equipment to Plow Every Neighborhood During a Snowstorm?," City of Virginia Beach, https://www.vbgov.com/government/departments/communications-office/fact-or-fiction/Pages/Snow-Plows.aspx (last checked March 2, 2019)
3. "Snowfall Extremes," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/snowfall-extremes/VA/3 (last checked December 1, 2021)
4. "Remembering the Blizzard of 1996 that paralyzed Washington, D.C.," Washington Post, January 6, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2016/01/06/remembering-the-blizzard-of-1996-that-paralyzed-washington-d-c/ (last checked December 1, 2021)
5. "Snowmageddon: One year later...," Washington Post, February 4, 2011, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/capitalweathergang/2011/02/snowmageddon_one_year_later.html (last checked December 1, 2021)

Virginia Beach's snow removal plan focuses on plowing major routes, not neighborhood roads
Virginia Beach's snow removal plan focuses on plowing major routes, not neighborhood roads
Source: City of Virginia Beach, Citywide Priority 1 Plowing Routes


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