Where did the snow fall?

From the Institute for Climate Education at A-B Tech: Western North Carolina can seem like a land divided at times. The complex terrain of this region has a significant impact on the climate and the type of weather that we experience at any given location. The higher elevations, like the mountains along the North Carolina/Tennessee state line pictured below, experienced significant snow though out the multiday event, while many folks in the valley were left with just a few flurries.

The snowfall totals of the mountains seen here were generally close to 6 inches over the four-day period.

The map below shows where the snow fell in our region starting early Thursday morning (Jan 31).

Locations in white generally saw light accumulations — up to as much as 2 inches. The areas in light blue reported more than 2” of snow. And, you can easily spot the bullseye of the snow that fell on Mount Mitchell, northeast of Asheville, where 12” of snow was reported. Significant snow was also reported in the mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What causes these significant differences over such a relatively short distance? To put it simply: Blame the mountains. Each storm is different, but in general: Air is lifted as it comes into contact with the mountains and as the air is forced to rise, it cools, producing precipitation.

Another key factor that determines where the heavy snow falls — wind direction. When the winds are from the northwest, the counties along the NC / TN state line see the highest totals. A relatively small shift in the wind direction can mean a big shift in where the heavy snow falls.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.