National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The 20 January 2001 Winter Storm

in the Mountains of North Carolina


NOAA/National Weather Service
Greer, SC


Snow Accumulation for the 20 January 2001 event

Total snow accumulation in inches for the 20 January 2001 event.

Author's Note: The following report has not been subjected to the scientific peer review process.

The map above represents snowfall totals from the snow event, most of which fell during the afternoon and overnight hours of 20 January 2001. This was primarily a "Northwest Flow" event with most of the snow accumulation occurring as northwest winds, behind low pressure exiting the region to the northeast, were lifted over the mountains. The cooling and moistening of the air as it was lifted resulted in a period of light to moderate snow, which affected the Tennessee border counties, and a few higher elevations a little further east.

The accompanying visible satellite image, taken about 1500 UTC the next morning, shows areas where snow had fallen the previous day. It had been a warm couple of weeks before the snow event, so most of the lighter coloring over the mountains represents new snow. There were a few rather impressive totals from the storm, with Mt. LeConte reporting in with a foot of new snow. Up to 8 inches of new snow fell at the higher elevations of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Wolf Laurel in eastern Madison County had 6 inches of snow and up to 8 inches was reported in northern Avery County.

GOES-12 visible satellite imagery at 1500 UTC on 21 January 2001

Visible satellite imagery from GOES-12 at 1500 UTC on 21 January 2001. Click on image to enlarge.

There is a thin finger of snow along the Haywood/Jackson county line between Waynesville and Cullowhee. This area of heavier snow amounts, up to 4 inches, is along the higher elevations of the Plott Balsam Mountains, which run in a northwest to southeast orientation along the county line. This is a very typical snowfall distribution for northwest flow events.