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.

 

Basic Snowfall Statistics for Wilmington, North Carolina since 1870

Total Snowfall in Database (inches): 233.0
Annual Mean Snowfall (inches):  1.6
Standard Deviation (per event):   2.9
Median Snowstorm Total (inches): 1.0
Mode (inches): 0.1


 

  

 

 

 

 

Total Snowfall by Decade (in.)     1900s: 14.6   1950s: 10.7   2000s: 12.1
      1910s: 33.7   1960s: 18.2   2010s: 8.8
1870s: 4.9   1920s: 10.4   1970s: 22.0      
1880s: 8.6   1930s: 11.7   1980s: 35.4      
1890s: 22.4   1940s: 17.0   1990s: 2.5      

 


Earliest Measurable Snowfall:  November 20, 1879.  (trace amounts of snow have fallen as early as November 13, 2013)

Latest Measureable Snowfall:  March 31, 1915.   (trace amounts of snow have fallen as late as April 11, 1989)

 

Snow at the National Weather Service office in Wilmington on January 20, 2009Measurable Snowfall Events by Month since 1870

Month # of events  
January 38 33% of all events
February 37 32% of all events
March 15 13% of all events
April 0 0% of all events
November 3 3% of all events
December 21 18% of all events

 

 

 

Snowstorm Historic Frequency Analysis

Snowstorm Amount ≥ 0.1" ≥ 1" ≥ 3" ≥ 6" ≥ 12"
# of events 114 57 27 12 3
 Mean Events/Year 0.79 0.40 0.19 0.08 0.02
Mean Return Interval (years) 1.3 2.5 5.3 12.0 48.0

 

 

Wilmington, NC Snowfall Database

snow and sleet are measured together

  All Measurable Snows       Snowstorms 1+ inches  
  # of events: 114       # of events: 57  
  Events/Year: 0.79       Events/Year: 0.40  
  Return Interval: 1.3 years     Return Interval: 2.5 years
                 
Storm # Begin Date End Date Storm Total   Storm # Begin Date End Date Storm Total
1 12/23/1870 12/23/1870 2.4   1 12/23/1870 12/23/1870 2.4
2 3/22/1872 3/22/1872 1.0   2 3/22/1872 3/22/1872 1.0
3 11/20/1879 11/20/1879 1.5   3 11/20/1879 11/20/1879 1.5
4 12/30/1880 12/30/1880 0.1   4 1/24/1881 1/24/1881 1.0
5 1/24/1881 1/24/1881 1.0   5 3/22/1882 3/22/1882 2.0
6 3/22/1882 3/22/1882 2.0   6 1/5/1884 1/5/1884 1.5
7 1/5/1884 1/5/1884 1.5   7 2/28/1886 2/28/1886 1.6
8 2/4/1886 2/4/1886 0.2   8 12/26/1892 12/28/1892 2.0
9 2/28/1886 2/28/1886 1.6   9 2/24/1894 2/25/1894 2.3
10 2/11/1889 2/11/1889 0.2   10 2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1
11 2/21/1889 2/21/1889 2.0   11 2/11/1899 2/13/1899 5.0
12 3/7/1890 3/7/1890 0.3   12 2/21/1889 2/21/1889 2.0
13 12/26/1892 12/28/1892 2.0   13 2/23/1901 2/26/1901 9.0
14 2/24/1894 2/25/1894 2.3   14 1/4/1904 1/5/1904 4.5
15 2/7/1895 2/8/1895 0.1   15 1/13/1912 1/15/1912 8.6
16 2/11/1895 2/13/1895 0.4   16 2/10/1912 2/11/1912 9.8
17 2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1   17 11/28/1912 11/28/1912 1.0
18 1/28/1899 1/29/1899 0.2   18 3/30/1915 3/31/1915 1.0
19 2/11/1899 2/13/1899 5.0   19 12/20/1915 12/21/1915 7.5
20 1/1/1900 1/1/1900 0.1   20 12/29/1917 12/30/1917 4.2
21 2/23/1901 2/26/1901 9.0   21 2/9/1919 2/10/1919 1.2
22 12/17/1901 12/19/1901 0.3   22 1/25/1922 1/25/1922 2.4
23 2/15/1902 2/17/1902 0.2   23 1/26/1927 1/27/1927 2.0
24 1/4/1904 1/5/1904 4.5   24 3/1/1927 3/2/1927 4.5
25 1/9/1906 1/9/1906 0.1   25 3/15/1934 3/15/1934 1.0
26 12/4/1907 12/5/1907 0.4   26 1/30/1936 1/30/1936 6.5
27 1/13/1912 1/15/1912 8.6   27 2/21/1936 2/22/1936 3.7
28 2/10/1912 2/11/1912 9.8   28 1/1/1940 1/2/1940 1.1
29 11/28/1912 11/28/1912 1.0   29 2/24/1942 2/25/1942 8.0
30 2/13/1914 2/13/1914 0.1   30 12/15/1943 12/15/1943 6.0
31 2/24/1914 2/25/1914 0.2   31 2/3/1951 2/3/1951 3.0
32 3/30/1915 3/31/1915 1.0   32 12/11/1957 12/11/1957 1.0
33 12/20/1915 12/21/1915 7.5   33 2/13/1958 2/13/1958 2.0
34 12/29/1917 12/30/1917 4.2   34 12/11/1958 12/14/1958 3.1
35 1/2/1918 1/2/1918 0.1   35 3/9/1960 3/12/1960 6.2
36 2/9/1919 2/10/1919 1.2   36 1/11/1962 1/12/1962 1.0
37 1/25/1922 1/25/1922 2.4   37 2/12/1962 2/12/1962 1.0
38 11/27/1922 11/28/1922 0.2   38 1/30/1965 1/31/1965 2.8
39 3/13/1926 3/13/1926 0.6   39 2/22/1968 2/24/1968 3.3
40 1/10/1927 1/11/1927 0.7   40 1/23/1970 1/23/1970 1.8
41 1/26/1927 1/27/1927 2.0   41 12/29/1970 12/29/1970 4.0
42 3/1/1927 3/2/1927 4.5   42 1/7/1973 1/10/1973 1.9
43 1/29/1930 1/30/1930 0.4   43 2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5
44 3/3/1931 3/4/1931 0.1   44 3/1/1980 3/3/1980 6.6
45 3/15/1934 3/15/1934 1.0   45 1/30/1981 1/30/1981 1.0
46 1/30/1936 1/30/1936 6.5   46 3/24/1983 3/25/1983 4.2
47 2/21/1936 2/22/1936 3.7   47 1/15/1988 1/15/1988 5.0
48 1/1/1940 1/2/1940 1.1   48 12/16/1988 12/16/1988 1.6
49 1/19/1940 1/19/1940 0.2   49 12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3
50 1/7/1942 1/9/1942 0.4   50 2/10/1997 2/10/1997 1.2
51 2/24/1942 2/25/1942 8.0   51 1/18/2000 1/18/2000 1.1
52 12/16/1942 12/16/1942 0.6   52 1/25/2000 1/25/2000 5.0
53 12/15/1943 12/15/1943 6.0   53 1/2/2002 1/4/2002 1.8
54 3/26/1947 3/26/1947 0.1   54 1/23/2003 1/23/2003 3.0
55 1/28/1948 2/1/1948 0.5   55 2/12/2010 2/13/2010 3.8
56 2/9/1948 2/10/1948 0.1   56 1/10/2011 1/10/2011 3.8
57 2/3/1951 2/3/1951 3.0   57 1/28/2014 1/29/2014 1.0
58 2/10/1951 2/10/1951 0.5          
59 12/6/1954 12/6/1954 0.3          
60 1/10/1956 1/10/1956 0.8          
61 12/11/1957 12/11/1957 1.0          
62 2/13/1958 2/13/1958 2.0          
63 12/11/1958 12/14/1958 3.1          
64 3/9/1960 3/12/1960 6.2          
65 1/11/1962 1/12/1962 1.0          
66 2/12/1962 2/12/1962 1.0          
67 3/2/1962 3/3/1962 0.8          
68 3/6/1962 3/7/1962 0.3          
69 2/17/1963 2/17/1963 0.6          
70 2/26/1963 2/27/1963 0.8          
71 1/15/1965 1/17/1965 0.1          
72 1/30/1965 1/31/1965 2.8          
73 3/6/1965 3/6/1965 0.4          
74 1/10/1968 1/12/1968 0.1          
75 2/22/1968 2/24/1968 3.3          
76 12/15/1968 12/15/1968 0.3          
77 1/4/1969 1/4/1969 0.5          
78 1/20/1970 1/20/1970 0.1          
79 1/23/1970 1/23/1970 1.8          
80 2/26/1970 2/26/1970 0.2          
81 12/29/1970 12/29/1970 4.0          
82 1/7/1973 1/10/1973 1.9          
83 2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5          
84 12/17/1973 12/17/1973 0.4          
85 1/31/1977 1/31/1977 0.6          
86 2/16/1977 2/16/1977 0.3          
87 2/18/1979 2/18/1979 0.2          
88 2/6/1980 2/6/1980 0.3          
89 3/1/1980 3/3/1980 6.6          
90 1/30/1981 1/30/1981 1.0          
91 2/26/1982 2/26/1982 0.1          
92 3/24/1983 3/25/1983 4.2          
93 1/7/1988 1/8/1988 0.4          
94 1/15/1988 1/15/1988 5.0          
95 12/12/1988 12/13/1988 0.1          
96 12/16/1988 12/16/1988 1.6          
97 2/23/1989 2/24/1989 0.8          
98 12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3          
99 12/23/1993 12/23/1993 0.7          
100 2/3/1996 2/4/1996 0.1          
101 2/16/1996 2/16/1996 0.5          
102 2/10/1997 2/10/1997 1.2          
103 1/18/2000 1/18/2000 1.1          
104 1/25/2000 1/25/2000 5.0          
105 12/3/2000 12/3/2000 0.2          
106 1/2/2002 1/4/2002 1.8          
107 1/23/2003 1/23/2003 3.0          
108 1/19/2008 1/20/2008 0.9          
109 2/4/2009 2/4/2009 0.1          
110 2/12/2010 2/13/2010 3.8          
111 12/26/2010 12/26/2010 0.1          
112 1/10/2011 1/10/2011 3.8          
113 1/22/2011 1/22/2011 0.1          
114 1/28/2014 1/29/2014 1.0          

 

 

  Snowstorms 3+ inches       Snowstorms 6+ inches  
  # of events: 27       # of events: 12  
  Events/Year: 0.19       Events/Year: 0.08  
  Return Interval: 5.3 years     Return Interval: 12.0 years
                 
Storm # Begin Date End Date Storm Total   Storm # Begin Date End Date Storm Total
1 2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1   1 2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1
2 2/11/1899 2/13/1899 5.0   2 2/23/1901 2/26/1901 9.0
3 2/23/1901 2/26/1901 9.0   3 1/13/1912 1/15/1912 8.6
4 1/4/1904 1/5/1904 4.5   4 2/10/1912 2/11/1912 9.8
5 1/13/1912 1/15/1912 8.6   5 12/20/1915 12/21/1915 7.5
6 2/10/1912 2/11/1912 9.8   6 1/30/1936 1/30/1936 6.5
7 12/20/1915 12/21/1915 7.5   7 2/24/1942 2/25/1942 8.0
8 12/29/1917 12/30/1917 4.2   8 12/15/1943 12/15/1943 6.0
9 3/1/1927 3/2/1927 4.5   9 3/9/1960 3/12/1960 6.2
10 1/30/1936 1/30/1936 6.5   10 2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5
11 2/21/1936 2/22/1936 3.7   11 3/1/1980 3/3/1980 6.6
12 2/24/1942 2/25/1942 8.0   12 12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3
13 12/15/1943 12/15/1943 6.0          
14 2/3/1951 2/3/1951 3.0          
15 12/11/1958 12/14/1958 3.1          
16 3/9/1960 3/12/1960 6.2          
18 2/22/1968 2/24/1968 3.3          
19 12/29/1970 12/29/1970 4.0          
20 2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5          
21 3/1/1980 3/3/1980 6.6          
22 3/24/1983 3/25/1983 4.2          
23 1/15/1988 1/15/1988 5.0          
24 12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3          
25 1/25/2000 1/25/2000 5.0          
26 1/23/2003 1/23/2003 3.0          
27 2/12/2010 2/13/2010 3.8          
28 1/10/2011 1/10/2011 3.8          

 

 

  Snowstorms 12+ inches  
  # of events: 3  
  Events/Year: 0.02  
  Return Interval: 48.0 years
       
Storm # Begin Date End Date Storm Total
1 2/17/1896 2/18/1896 12.1
2 2/9/1973 2/11/1973 12.5
3 12/22/1989 12/24/1989 15.3

 

Page Author:  Tim Armstrong
Page Created:  November 10, 2013
Last Updated:  February 25, 2014