This weekend’s snow storm may be memorable for Triangle residents, but it probably won’t break any records, climatologists say.
The National Weather Service expects between 4 and 8 inches of snow to fall in the Triangle this weekend, falling far short of the all-time snowfall record set in January 2000, said Corey Davis, an applied climatologist at the State Climate office of North Carolina, based at N.C. State University.
A two-day storm that year dropped a staggering 20.3 inches at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, Davis said, bringing the region to a standstill for days.
“That’s sort of the grandaddy of snow events in the Triangle,” Davis said.
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The second-deepest snow ever measured at RDU was 11.1 inches in March 1980.
Snowfall at RDU averages about 5.9 inches a year, according to records that date back to 1944, Davis said. Half of the top 10 snow events gauged at the airport occurred in January, which is to be expected, he said.
“Climatologically speaking, January is our coldest month, and it’s usually our snowiest month,” Davis said.
The coldest day ever in Raleigh was recorded on Jan. 21, 1985, when temperatures hit a frigid minus 9 at RDU and minus 8 in Chapel Hill, Davis said.
Davis said that cold January day also set the benchmark for coldest temperature ever measured in the state – a frigid 34 below zero on Mount Mitchell.
In Orange County, snowfall records date back to 1891, and are slightly different, Davis said. The greatest snow depth there was recorded in February 1902, when officials gauged 16 inches of powder, he said. The January 2000 storm came in second, measuring 12.6 inches.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi
Top 5 deepest snows at RDU:
1- Jan. 24-25, 2000 - 20.3 inches
2 - March 1-2, 1980 - 11.1 inches
3- Jan 2-3, 2002 - 10.8 inches
4- Feb. 18-19, 1979 - 10.4 inches
5- Jan. 25-27, 1966 - 9.7 inches