The Bigger Picture: More Than 3 Inches of Snow Make Grounds a Winter Wonderland

January 16, 2024 By Traci Hale, Traci Hale,

For the first time since January 2022, significant snowfall blanketed the University of Virginia’s Grounds. The official snow total at UVA’s Leander McCormick Observatory, which records daily weather observations, was 3.1 inches.

While the area saw a trace of snow in April 2023, the last significant snowfalls were nearly two years ago, when a series of storms dumped more than 20 inches of the white stuff on the Charlottesville area in the month of January 2022.

“Snowfall is highly variable, and we have seen winter totals as high as 56.8 inches [in the winter of 2009-10], and as low as zero inches last year,” said Ricky Patterson, director of Research Data Services and STEM Liaisons in the University Library and a former senior scientist in the Department of Astronomy. “The most recent 30-year ‘normal’ average amount for a winter snowfall total, which is based on readings from 1991 to 2020, is 17 inches, just slightly higher than the 1981 to 2010 ‘normal’ average amount of 16.3 inches.” 

The largest storm in recent memory fell Dec 19-20, 2009, when the area picked up nearly 21 inches of snow.

Astronomers at McCormick Observatory have been taking daily weather observations since January 1893 for the National Weather Service and other agencies.

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Traci Hale

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