Hook Logo

White Christmas storm: #1 for December; #4 overall

by Lisa Provence
(434) 295-8700 x235
published 10:38pm Wednesday Dec 23, 2009
Bookmark and Share letter Write a letter to the editor

news-rotunda-snowThomas Jefferson measured 36 inches of snow in 1772.

It’s official: The snowfall that began wreaking havoc on Charlottesville and Albemarle County December 18-19 measures 20.5 inches and ranks as the area’s fourth deepest since McCormick Observatory began keeping records in 1894.

“This is the biggest single snowfall event that has occurred before the end of December,” says Jerry Stenger, director of UVA’s climatology office. “It should guarantee a white Christmas.” Just a few weeks ago Stenger put the odds of a white Christmas at one in three.

The recent storm comes in first on the list for this millennium and would have been number three overall were it not barely edged out by the 21-incher that launched the brutal winter of ‘96 and brought 14 more inches of snow a month later.

Thomas Jefferson measured the most snow: 36 inches in 1772’s Washington & Jefferson Storm. “That was during the period known as the ‘Little Ice Age,’” says Stenger, “which ran from about the mid-13th through the mid-19th centuries.”

Here are the top storms, courtesy of Stenger, and some of these have monikers. This one’s maximum snows were probably not experienced over a large enough chunk of the U.S. to put it in the running for an “official” name, says Stenger. Nonetheless, the Hook thinks the White Christmas/Snowpocalypse of ‘09 should have one, and readers are invited to offer their own suggestions.

And, reminds Stenger, “There’s plenty of winter left!”

Major Snow Events in Charlottesville 1894–2009
(From records at McCormick Observatory)

Rank  Year  Mon  Day  Total  Moniker

1         1922  Jan  27-28   24     Knickerbocker Storm

2        1962  Mar   5-7      23     Ash Wednesday Storm

3        1996  Jan    7-8      21

4       2009  Dec 19-20  20.5

5       1899   Feb    13       18

6      1983    Feb  11-12   16.3

7      1969   Dec    26       16

8     1989   Dec  12-13    14.5

9     1996   Feb    2-3      14

10   1960  Mar  16-17    13.5

11    1987  Jan  22-23    13

12   1980  Jan    4-5       12.6

13   1958  Feb   15-16     12.3

13   1960  Mar    3-4      12.3

15   1924   Mar    11        12

15   1966  Jan   26-27    12

15   1993  Mar  13-14     12   Storm of the Century

Updated 9:40am December 24



  • I'll be here all week December 24th, 2009 | 9:06 am

    How about “Ash Knicker Storm”

  • Local December 24th, 2009 | 9:22 am

    Or ” The Depression Storm “

  • Gary December 24th, 2009 | 9:26 am

    Call it “VNOT’s No Plow” storm. Happy holidays. Thanks for the superior information service on your website during this storm. How impressive that a WEEKLY newspaper was better than many of the local broadcast media on continuous updates when we needed them. Kudos!

  • Local December 24th, 2009 | 9:33 am

    Totally agree Gary, the best coverage of the storm and superior slideshows. How about ” Stranded “

  • Gasbag Self Ordained Expert December 24th, 2009 | 10:26 am

    As far the effectiveness of the local and state crews in this area, why not call it the “Storm of the Century?”

  • boo! December 24th, 2009 | 11:36 am

    I think “The Great Snowpocolypse of 2009″ has a good ring to it. :) That’s my vote.

  • Nancy December 24th, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    ditto,” Great Snowpocolypse”

  • boo! December 24th, 2009 | 12:54 pm

    btw the official snowfall in downtown Cville was 23″, not 20.5. We live off of Locust Avenue and came up with 23″ using our handy dandy tape measure. Cville weekly is confirming that as well in this week’s issue. So that definitely makes this storm 2nd place, not 4th.

  • boo! December 24th, 2009 | 12:56 pm

    (or rather, it ties for 2nd place along with 1962….)

  • Nancy December 24th, 2009 | 1:28 pm

    We measured 16″ in the City, with our handy-dandy yard stick, guess it depends where you live. That makes it tied to #7

  • WestBerkeleyFlats December 24th, 2009 | 2:11 pm

    Well, the data are actually collected at a specific location, in this case the observatory, but if someone has accurate meteorological data extending back a century for a spot in downtown C’ville then they would be more than welcome to post that information.

  • Nancy December 24th, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    December 24th 4:30pm , two multi-vehicle accidents blocking 29 going North, disabled vehicle blocking 29 going South, WINA saysm avoid 29 all together if at all possible–

  • Buffalo girl December 24th, 2009 | 11:56 pm

    Santa is on his way; this year it will be a breeze getting around with all the snow on the ground, and we’re not the only ones with a white Christmas. A whooping 58.3% of the nation is covered with snow–take a look:


  • Santa December 25th, 2009 | 12:08 am

    Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

  • jo December 26th, 2009 | 11:36 am

    I thought we were having a global warming crisis. No real need to know who the joke is on. We know who is really in charge.

  • Nancy January 2nd, 2010 | 6:11 am

    Waynesboro spent $115,300 on snow removal. Does anyone know what Charlottesville and Albemarle spent ? Doesn’t look like we’ll get any FEMA money based on this statement

    “Caldwell said FEMA required the department to file its expenses by locality because the government will make reimbursement only if the snowfall exceeded the historic record in that jurisdiction.”

    Snowfall ranged as high as 29 inches in Stuarts Draft.


  • yepper January 2nd, 2010 | 8:56 am

    good point Jo. How can there be global warming when it gets cold in the winter? Clearly global warming is a myth perpetrated and propogated by a shadowy cabal of leftists and environmental goods corporations bent on world domination!! (sarcasm)

login | Contents ©2009 The HooK