March: In Like a Fluffy, White, Snow-Covered Lamb

Winter, and all things white and fluffy, you’re officially ON NOTICE. Snow in March and/or April isn’t unheard of, so I’m not quite ready to close the book on this winter just yet, but here’s a look at Richmond’s winter so far by the numbers.

Winter, and all things white and fluffy, you’re officially ON NOTICE.

Snow in March and/or April isn’t unheard of, so I’m not quite ready to close the book on this winter just yet. That being said, the prevailing pattern is giving us a good indication that the the cold air (especially necessary for snow in these parts in spring) has retreated to more northerly locations. I wanted to take this opportunity to recap some of the records that were set this winter and where Richmond stands compared to its all-time snow records. Thanks to the fine staff at the National Weather Service, along with user RIC Airport at for helping to compile this data.

Richmond International Airport has officially received 28.0” of snow this winter, which ranks 12th all-time. We only need 0.6” more to tie for 10th all-time. I’m not ruling it out, as we’ve seen early spring snows before, nor am I holding my breath. This season’s total is also the fourth highest since 1970, which says a lot about how little snow we’re used to seeing in Richmond; the average winter sees 11.7” of snowfall. It’s also more snow than we received in the previous five winters combined – the period of 2004-05 through 2008-09 only saw 22.6” of snow.

Snow events this winter, based on totals from Richmond International Airport:

Date(s) Amount
December 5 Trace
December 18-20 7.4”
January 1 Trace
January 7-8 0.4”
January 22 Trace
January 30-31 10.0”
February 2-3 0.3”
February 5-6 6.6”
February 10 2.8”
Feburary 13 0.1”
February 24 Trace

The three events of 6+” this winter marks only the fourth time in recorded history (since 1897) that Richmond has had three separate snow events that dropped six inches or more of snow each. Richmond also set three daily snowfall records this winter. The six inches we received on December 19 broke the previous record of 5.3”, set in 1916. January 30th’s total of 9.5” broke 1930’s record of 9.0”*. Finally, the 4.1” that fell on February 6 eclipsed the 3.7” total that fell in 1983.

Additionally, the period from January 30 to February 13 marked a 15-day period with at least 1” of snowfall on the ground at RIC, which matches two prior winters: March 4-17, 1960 and January 23 – Feb 6, 1940. The longest period was a stretch of 19 consecutive days, from January 24 to February 12 in 1948. This year RIC had a total of 22 days with at least 1” of snow on the ground, tying the record set in the winter of 1965-66.

December’s snow also gave Richmond International a white Christmas first time since 1966. An official white Christmas is one that has at least 1” of snowfall on the ground at 7am EST on December 25.

This was a significant winter, but compared to the records, it wasn’t exactly record-setting. It seems even less significant when taken in context with other locations around us. Reagan, Dulles and BWI airports all set total snowfall records this winter, as did Charlottesville.

*This date likely needs an asterisk, as this total of 9.5” was a revised total based on nearby reports. The original reported total at the airport was only seven inches, well below most other reports in the area. After some discussion about the abnormally low total by the public on a regional weather forum, the NWS announced a revised total based on the observations from a nearby reporting station. That being said, I think it was totally the correct call here, as the initial snowfall report from RIC was significantly below other local observations.

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Weather Dan

Dan Goff is now a two-time former Richmonder, having departed the River City yet again in favor of southwest Virginia, where he is working on degrees in geography and meteorology at Virginia Tech. Have a question about the weather or weather-related phenomena?

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