North Carolina is known as the Tarheel State. It has a population of over ten million people, many of which live in or around Charlotte. This eastern state includes a long segment of coast on the Atlantic Ocean, as well as a portion of the Appalachian Mountains further inland. With its wide east to west footprint, North Carolina experiences a variety of climate conditions year round. It’s generally warmest on the coast and coolest in the higher elevation inland areas. Summers tend to be mild and wet, with the exception of the subtropical southeastern corner of the state. Snowstorms and blizzards are uncommon, but do occasionally happen. But, just how big was the biggest blizzard to ever hit North Carolina?
The Carolina Crusher
Before we talk about the biggest blizzard to ever hit North Carolina, let’s talk about how blizzards are measured. One metric is the amount of snow that falls (in inches), another is duration, and yet another is relative severity of the storm in terms of property damage and danger to humans. Because there are so many different ways to measure blizzards, there are also many ways to determine which blizzard is the largest. Here, we’ll go by the amount of snow (in inches) that fell in the briefest period of time.
Using that metric, the biggest blizzard to ever hit North Carolina is without question the Carolina Crusher of 2000. This snowstorm hit North Carolina on January 25, 2000, and dumped up to 24 inches of snow in just 24 hours. For a state that doesn’t get frequent snowstorms, that’s pretty significant. This incredible weather event is also known as the Great Blizzard of 2000. It was caused when a nor’easter storm from the south met cold air from the north, leading to most of eastern North Carolina seeing snow.
Runners-Up: Other Large North Carolina Blizzards
The Carolina Crusher was an extremely rare event for North Carolina. But, it isn’t the only freak snowstorm to blanket the state. Let’s check out four more of the largest, most newsworthy blizzards to ever hit the Tarheel State.
1. The1927 Blizzard
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), one of the biggest blizzards to ever hit North Carolina occurred in 1927. This snowstorm, which took place between February 27 and March 3, dumped more than 20 inches of snow in parts of central North Carolina. Reportedly, it covered most of the state with at least a few inches of snow.
2. The 1980 Blizzard
Another one of the biggest blizzards to ever hit North Carolina struck in 1980. The snowstorm of March 1, 1980 is what you get when you combine cold temperatures, lots of snow, and windy conditions. This storm blanketed the entire state, with some areas seeing up to two feet (or more) of snowfall. Additionally, winds up to 40-50 mph were recorded throughout the state.
3. The 1993 Blizzard
Sometimes called “the storm of the century”, North Carolina’s 1993 blizzard was a doozy. Between March 12-15, a large nor’easter struck the western half of the state. While parts of central North Carolina received up to eight inches of snow, the higher elevation zones in the west received up to 24 inches of snowfall.
This historic storm (also known as the Great Blizzard of ‘93, the ‘93 Superstorm, or the 1993 Storm of the Century) occurred later in the year then any of North Carolina’s large blizzards. The city of Asheville reported an overnight snowfall of around 20 inches. But, North Carolina wasn’t alone in weathering this blizzard; the 1993 storm impacted just about the entire East Coast.
4. The 1996 Blizzard
In 1996, one of the biggest blizzards to ever hit North Carolina struck most of the state. Snowfall was heaviest in the mountains to the west — totaling up to 24 inches of snow. The nor’easter (all these nor’easters!) struck eastern and north central North Carolina, stretching almost all the way to the coast. To the north, Virginia had it even worse, with many parts of the state receiving over two feet of snow. It took three days for this nor’easter to wear itself out, from January 6-9.
North Carolina doesn’t get much snow, so, when it gets a significant amount (over a couple of inches) it’s a pretty big deal. But, every single one of the biggest blizzards to ever hit North Carolina would be a big deal for any state. Nor’easters scored high on our list, and we discovered that the mountains in the westernmost part of the state generally get the most snow. We also found that snowstorms in North Carolina can be accompanied by high winds and very low temperatures. Altogether, North Carolina generally has mild weather, but, every once in a while, a real doozy of a blizzard gets conjured up.
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