West Virginia December 06, 2017
It’s Impossible To Forget These 5 Horrific Winter Storms That Have Gone Down In West Virginia History
With the winter season fast approaching, and temperatures dipping to the freezing point, West Virginians can’t help but wonder if another massive storm is waiting around the corner, despite predictions of a mild 2017/18 winter. It is also hard not to remember those storms that have struck us in the past. Many storms have hit us, dumping several inches of snow across our state, but these five were the most massive.
1. The Great Appalachian Storm – November, 1950
This storm came early in the season, a full month before the first day of winter, but its ferocity mirrored that of many winter storms that generally strike in January and February. From November 22 to November 30, the snow fell in record amounts. Coburn Creek (just west of Clarksburg) received a staggering 62 inches of snow, while more than half of the state got snow in excess of 20 inches. The system itself, which spanned from the Carolinas to Canada, caused widespread crop damage and had far-reaching effects, such as causing temperatures in sunny Florida to drop down to 22 degrees.
2. The Great Blizzard of ’78 – January, 1978
This one came out of nowhere. Meteorologists expected the storm to miss West Virginia entirely. Instead, it landed right on top of us. Constant updates were rolling in from news stations as the system approached. First, it was just a dusting of snow and then the updates were being announced in inches, the number increasing with every broadcast. In the end, the numbers bloomed to double digits. Huntington got 20 inches and Wheeling got 18, with most others hovering around the mid teens. When the plows came in to clear the roads, they created snow mounds so high that they didn’t completely melt until the spring thaw.
3. The Blizzard of ’93, a.k.a. "Storm of the Century" – March, 1993
This was a huge one, as the name implies. It wasn’t much more extreme than the Blizzard of ’78, but the sheer size of the storm was staggering, stretching from Honduras all the way to Canada, which meant the same system produced many different types of weather, depending on the typical climate of the regions it struck. It produced hurricane force winds, heavy rainfall, floods, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and blizzards. It snowed for 30 hours straight, with drifts as high as six feet. The snowfall left Snowshoe under 44 inches of snow. Beckley got 28 inches with Bluefield and Morgantown close behind at 24. The rest of the state got an average of 20 inches. In the end, the Storm of the Century affected 40 percent of the population of the U.S., leaving 10 million households without electricity and causing 208 fatalities.
4. The Blizzard of ’96 – January, 1996
From January 6-8, every part of West Virginia was blanketed in snow, ranging from six inches to 48 inches. The heaviest snowfall occurred around Monongahela National Forest and northward along the base of the eastern panhandle, where the snow measured up to 48 inches in some areas. Even the western cities were hit hard, leaving our state capital under 20 inches of snow, with Huntington not far behind in the mid teens. West Virginia sustained $24 million in damages from the blizzard. The storm was one of three systems that left a heavy snow pack across the region until mid January.
5. 2009 North American Blizzard – December, 2009
The most recent of the major West Virginia storms caused us to be put under a state of emergency. This Blizzard left some areas of the state under 30 inches of snow. Thousands of motorists were left stranded on Interstate 77 between Ghent and Beckley because the snow had rendered the roads impassable. The fatalities caused by the storm were thankfully low at only seven.
Winter storms are nothing new to West Virginians, it’s just important to be prepared when news of an approaching system reaches our ears. If we expect the worst, then we will always be ready for it.
What are your memories of past winter storm in West Virginia? Feel free to comment below and tell us your story.
To learn more about West Virginia weather, check out
these predictions for the 2017/18 winter season.