National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The National Weather Service maintains a complete climatological record of snowfall for Wilmington beginning in December, 1870.  This is the most complete snowfall history for any station in Eastern North or South Carolina.  With such a long period of data many interesting snowfall statistics can be generated for Wilmington. 

Picture of a snowboard, used for official snowfall measurementsUp until the Weather Bureau (the former name of the National Weather Service) moved its official weather observations to the Wilmington airport in 1951, snowfall measurements were taken by meteorologists from a variety of locations in downtown Wilmington including Water Street, Front Street, and Chestnut Street.  Today the official Wilmington snowfall measurements are taken at the airport in a grassy field by the National Weather Service using a white-painted piece of plywood called a "snowboard" and a precise measuring stick marked in one-tenth inch increments, both pictured to the right.

The largest snowstorms in Wilmington's history were the Great Christmas Blizzard of 1989 that dropped 15.3 inches, a blizzard in February 1973 that dropped 12.5 inches, and large snowstorm in February 1896 measuring 12.1 inches.  Dates and amounts of every measurable snow in Wilmington's history are available in the snowfall database section below.

 

Begin Date Ending Date Snowfall  
 
 
 
 
 
Basic Snowfall Statistics for Wilmington, NC since 1870
12/23/1870 12/23/1870 2.4 Total Snowfall (inches) 239.4  
 
 
 
 
3/22/1875 3/22/1875 1.0 Annual Mean Snowfall (in.) 1.6
11/20/1879 11/20/1879 1.5 Standard Deviation per event 2.8
12/30/1880 12/30/1880 0.1 Median Snowstorm Total (in.) 1.0
1/24/1881 1/24/1881 1.0 Mode (inches) 0.1
3/22/1883 3/22/1883 2.0  
1/5/1884 1/5/1884 1.5 Total Snowfall by Decade (inches) 
2/4/1886 2/4/1886 0.2 1870s:   4.9 1930s:  11.7 1990s:  3.9
2/28/1886 2/28/1886 1.6 1880s:   8.6 1940s:   17.0 2000s:  12.1
2/11/1889 2/11/1889 0.2 1890s:   23.3 1950s:   10.7 2010s:  12.9
2/21/1889 2/21/1889 2.0 1900s:   14.6 1960s:  18.2  
3/7/1890 3/7/1890 0.3 1910s:   33.7 1970s:  22.0  
12/26/1892 12/28/1892 2.0 1920s:   10.4 1980s:  35.4  
2/24/1894 2/25/1894 3.2  
2/7/1895 2/8/1895 0.1
2/11/1895 2/13/1895 0.4
2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1 Earliest Measurable Snow:     November 20, 1879
1/28/1899 1/29/1899 0.2 Latest Measurable Snow:     March 31, 1915
2/11/1899 2/13/1899 5.0 Trace amounts have fallen as early as November 12, 2013; and as late as April 11, 1989
1/1/1900 1/1/1900 0.1  
2/23/1901 2/26/1901 9.0 Measurable Snowfall Events Since 1870
12/17/1901 12/19/1901 0.3 Month # of events  
2/15/1902 2/17/1902 0.2 January 40   34% of all events
1/4/1904 1/5/1904 4.5 February 38   32% of all events
1/9/1906 1/9/1906 0.1 March 16   14% of all events
12/4/1907 12/5/1907 0.4 April 0   0 % of all events
1/13/1912 1/15/1912 8.6 November 3   3 % of all events
2/10/1912 2/11/1912 9.8 December 21   18% of all events
11/28/1912 11/28/1912 1.0  
2/13/1914 2/13/1914 0.1
2/24/1914 2/25/1914 0.2 Snowstorm Historic Frequency Analysis
3/30/1915 3/31/1915 1.0 Snowstorm Amount ≥ 0.1" ≥ 1" ≥ 3" ≥ 6" ≥ 12"
12/20/1915 12/21/1915 7.5 # of events since 1870 118 59 29 12 3
12/29/1917 12/30/1917 4.2 Mean # of events per year 0.80 0.40 0.20 0.08 0.02
1/2/1918 1/2/1918 0.1 Mean return interval (years) 1.3 2.5 5.1 12 49
2/9/1919 2/10/1919 1.2   
1/25/1922 1/25/1922 2.4
11/27/1922 11/28/1922 0.2
3/13/1926 3/13/1926 0.6
1/10/1927 1/11/1927 0.7
1/26/1927 1/27/1927 2.0
3/1/1927 3/2/1927 4.5
1/29/1930 1/30/1930 0.4
3/3/1931 3/4/1931 0.1
3/15/1934 3/15/1934 1.0
1/30/1936 1/30/1936 6.5
2/21/1936 2/22/1936 3.7
1/1/1940 1/2/1940 1.1
1/19/1940 1/19/1940 0.2
1/7/1942 1/9/1942 0.4
2/24/1942 2/25/1942 8.0
12/16/1942 12/16/1942 0.6
12/15/1943 12/15/1943 6.0
3/26/1947 3/26/1947 0.1
1/28/1948 2/1/1948 0.5
2/9/1948 2/10/1948 0.1
2/3/1951 2/3/1951 3.0
2/10/1951 2/10/1951 0.5
12/6/1954 12/6/1954 0.3
1/10/1956 1/10/1956 0.8
12/11/1957 12/11/1957 1.0
2/13/1958 2/13/1958 2.0
12/11/1958 12/14/1958 3.1
3/9/1960 3/12/1960 6.2
1/11/1962 1/12/1962 1.0
2/12/1962 2/12/1962 1.0
3/2/1962 3/3/1962 0.8
3/6/1962 3/7/1962 0.3
2/17/1963 2/17/1963 0.6
2/26/1963 2/27/1963 0.8
1/15/1965 1/17/1965 0.1
1/30/1965 1/31/1965 2.8
3/6/1965 3/6/1965 0.4
1/10/1968 1/12/1968 0.1
2/22/1968 2/24/1968 3.3
12/15/1968 12/15/1968 0.3
1/4/1969 1/4/1969 0.5
1/20/1970 1/20/1970 0.1
1/23/1970 1/23/1970 1.8
2/26/1970 2/26/1970 0.2
12/29/1970 12/29/1970 4.0
1/7/1973 1/10/1973 1.9
2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5
12/17/1973 12/17/1973 0.4
1/31/1977 1/31/1977 0.6
2/16/1977 2/16/1977 0.3
2/18/1979 2/18/1979 0.2
2/6/1980 2/6/1980 0.3
3/1/1980 3/3/1980 6.6
1/30/1981 1/30/1981 1.0
2/26/1982 2/26/1982 0.1
3/24/1983 3/25/1983 4.2
1/7/1988 1/8/1988 0.4
1/15/1988 1/15/1988 5.0
12/12/1988 12/13/1988 0.1
12/16/1988 12/16/1988 1.6
2/23/1989 2/24/1989 0.8
12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3
1/19/1992 1/19/1992 1.4
12/23/1993 12/23/1993 0.7
2/3/1996 2/4/1996 0.1
2/16/1996 2/16/1996 0.5
2/10/1997 2/10/1997 1.2
1/18/2000 1/18/2000 1.1
1/25/2000 1/25/2000 5.0
12/3/2000 12/3/2000 0.2
1/2/2002 1/4/2002 1.8
1/23/2003 1/23/2003 3.0
1/19/2009 1/20/2009 0.9
2/4/2009 2/4/2009 0.1
2/12/2010 2/13/2010 3.8
12/26/2010 12/26/2010 0.1
1/10/2011 1/10/2011 3.8
1/22/2011 1/22/2011 0.1
1/28/2014 1/29/2014 1.0
2/24/2015 2/24/2015 0.3
 3/12/2017 3/12/2017 1.1
1/3/2018 1/4/2018 3.8
 
                       

 

Page Author:  Tim Armstrong
Page Created:  November 10, 2014
Last Updated:  January 9, 2018