CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) – It’s too early to know if we’ll be having a tough winter season yet, and the worst snowstorms the state has seen are hard to beat anyway. When was the biggest recorded snowstorm in West Virginia history?
The Great Blizzard of 1978
West Virginia has seen its fair share of crazy snowstorms. Most people remember the blizzard of 1978, which saw the entire east coast blanketed in snow. A massive arctic high pressure system became established across the northern plains on January 19 and built eastward through the next several days, coating not just the mountains with almost 30 inches of snow, but also covering the lowlands in 10 to 20 inches themselves.
This winter storm resulted in uncharacteristically high amounts of snow in places like Charleston, WV. The Charleston Gazette featured pictures throughout the following weeks of the city covered in snow. Charleston may have gotten higher snow than recorded before, but this was not the biggest storm the state has seen.
These are the National Weather Service’s snowfall totals for the blizzard of 1978.
The Storm of the Century
The most snow that many parts of Southern West Virginia received was the blizzard of 1993. This included the highest snowfall total on record for the City of Beckley. Snowfall totals in 1993 were at least a foot in all 55 West Virginia counties. This storm was far reaching, with many areas receiving 1-2 feet of snow across the lowlands and 2-3 feet in the WV mountains.
According to Weather.org, many storms have tried to take the title away from the 1978 blizzard, but few have come close.
“A few winter storms before this system and after it have attempted to match its fury, it continues to hold the title of “storm of the century” because of its major impacts for many residents across the Eastern US.”Weather.org
Even though that title remains, this storm was not the biggest snow storm recorded for the state of West Virginia.
The Biggest Snowstorm on WV record: The Great Appalachian Storm
The biggest snowstorm recorded across West Virginia still tops the snowfall total charts for Charleston, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and Elkins WV. It happened on November 24-29 of 1950: Thanksgiving weekend. This slow-moving, powerful storm system is objectively the worst winter storm on record to affect the region. Snow fell for an entire week, and places reported over 50 inches of snow. Coburn Creek, WV, reported a snowfall total of 62 inches!
These blizzards are momentous occasions in West Virginia history, and certainly not the norm. Just look at how far apart they happen and you’ll have evidence enough that snowstorms of this magnitude are not a common concern. 2022 isn’t likely to break any crazy records that were set in 1950, but you never know.