Does It Snow in Virginia?

Snow along the banks of the Shenandoah River in in Warren County, Virginia.
Snow along the banks of the Shenandoah River in in Warren County, Virginia.

Officially known as the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia is a US state in the southeastern region of the country. The state is also colloquially known as the "Old Dominion" and the "Mother of Presidents." It is the 35th largest US state and the 12th most populous. The Chesapeake Bay and the Blue Ridge Mountains shape the climate of the state. Snow is regularly seen in the state as is extreme weather such as tornadoes and cyclones.

Climate in Virginia

The state has a milder climate compared to other areas of the country. With an area of around 42,774.2 square miles and varying terrain, it is not a surprise that different parts of the state have varying climates. For example, according to the Köppen climate classification, the humid subtropical climate is experienced in places like the Roanoke Valley and the eastern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. According to the same classification, the western region of the Blue Ridge experiences both maritime temperate climate and humid continental climate. 

Snowfall in Virginia

Data shows that it does snow in Virginia, especially in the mountainous regions of the state. Data from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center between 1981 and 2010 shows that the regions of Burke’s Garden and Wise experience the longest snowfalls. The data shows that both places, which are located in the mountainous regions, experience an average of at least 52 inches of snowfall in a year. In terms of the average number of days, Wise experiences snow for around 31.1 days while Burkes Garden experiences snow for 26.4 days in a year. The coastal areas receive some of the lowest amounts of snowfall. Over the years, the state has experienced periods of significant snowfalls like the Blizzard of 1996 and the snowfalls of 2009.

The Blizzard of 1996

This blizzard assailed the east coast of the United States between January 6 and January 8, 1996, and accumulated about four feet of snow. One of the things that made this blizzard significant historically was the accompanying arctic high-pressure system. Immediately after the blizzard, the region experienced another storm on January 12, which was followed by sudden rain and warm weather that caused fast melting of snow and river flooding. As per the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale, the blizzard has the highest rating (5), which means extreme.

In Virginia, the most affected place was Roanoke, which managed to accumulate a whopping 23 inches of snow. Page County also had a massive 37 inches of snow while the central and western regions of the state mostly got between and three feet of snow. The governor was forced to declare a state of emergency due to damaged power lines, at least eight deaths, and confinement of people in their houses by the blizzard.


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