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)

233.3

 

3/22/1872

3/22/1872

1.0

 

Annual Mean Snowfall (in.)

1.6

 

11/20/1879

11/20/1879

1.5

 

Standard Deviation per event

2.9

 

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

 

3/22/1882

3/22/1882

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:  2.5

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:   22.4

1950s:   10.7

2010s:  9.1

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

2.3

   

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 11, 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 20, 1879, 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

38

  33% of all events

1/4/1904

1/5/1904

4.5

 

February

38

  33% of all events

1/9/1906

1/9/1906

0.1

 

March

15

  13% 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 1940

115

57

27

12

3

12/29/1917

12/30/1917

4.2

 

Mean # of events per year

0.79

0.39

0.19

0.08

0.02

1/2/1918

1/2/1918

0.1

 

Mean return interval (years)

1.3

2.5

5.3

12

48

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

 

 

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

 

 

1/19/2008

1/20/2008

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       

 

Page Author:  Tim Armstrong
Page Created:  November 10, 2013
Last Updated:  April 13, 2015