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PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV
446 AM EST FRI DEC 16 2011

...THE HISTORY OF PAST CHRISTMAS WEATHER...


AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR...MANY PEOPLE DREAM OF A WHITE
CHRISTMAS.  YET...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAYS IT IS
UNCOMMON FOR MOST WEST VIRGINIANS TO WAKE UP CHRISTMAS
MORNING TO A BLANKET OF SNOW AT LEAST 1 INCH IN DEPTH.
THE SAME HOLDS TRUE FOR RESIDENTS OF SOUTHEAST OHIO...
NORTHEAST KENTUCKY...AND SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA.

AT ELEVATIONS LESS THAN 2 THOUSAND FEET ABOVE SEA LEVEL...PAST
CHRISTMAS MORNINGS HAVE BEEN WHITE ONLY ABOUT 20 PERCENT
OF THE TIME.  THIS WOULD INCLUDE THE MAJORITY OF THE LARGER
CITIES.  HERE IS ANOTHER WAY TO SAY THE SAME THING...WEATHER
RECORDS TELL US THAT FOR EVERY 10 CHRISTMAS MORNINGS...ABOUT 2
HAD SNOW ON THE GROUND AT DAWN.

HEADING EAST FROM THE NEW RIVER VALLEY...PAST CHRISTMAS
MORNINGS HAVE BEEN WHITE ONLY ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF THE TIME IN
THE ROANOKE/SALEM REGION OF VIRGINIA ON NORTH TO INCLUDE
THE MARTINSBURG REGION IN WEST VIRGINIA`S EASTERN PANHANDLE.

THE CHANCES OF A WHITE CHRISTMAS INCREASE DRASTICALLY OVER THE
MOUNTAINS OF WEST VIRGINIA.  AT ELEVATIONS OVER 3 THOUSAND
FEET...ABOUT 7 OF EVERY 10 CHRISTMAS MORNINGS HAVE BEEN
WHITE...OR NEARLY 70 PERCENT OF THE TIME.

CONTINUOUS WEATHER SERVICE RECORDS FOR THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS
ONLY DATE BACK TO THE LATE 18 HUNDREDS.  YET...THESE RECORDS
STILL SHOW QUITE A VARIETY OF WEATHER FOR CHRISTMAS DAY.

LOOKING AT THE TEMPERATURE EXTREMES...IT`S IRONIC THAT THE
WARMEST CHRISTMAS WAS FOLLOWED BY THE COLDEST.

THE WARMEST TEMPERATURE FOR DECEMBER 25TH IN WEST VIRGINIA
AND VIRGINIA WAS IN 1982.  BOTH HUNTINGTON AND CHARLESTON
REGISTERED A BALMY 76 DEGREES IN 1982.  IN VIRGINIA...THE
WARMEST TEMPERATURE WAS 78 DEGREES FROM ABINGDON OF WASHINGTON
COUNTY.

ANOTHER UNUSUALLY WARM CHRISTMAS WAS FELT IN 1964.
WILLIAMSON AND LOGAN HAD 75 DEGREES ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1964.
THE WARMEST IN VIRGINIA IN 1964...WAS ALSO 75 DEGREES...FROM
NORFOLK.

THE COLDEST CHRISTMAS TEMPERATURES ENDURED IN BOTH WEST
VIRGINIA AND VIRGINIA WERE IN 1983.  SNOWSHOE OF POCAHONTAS
COUNTY MEASURED 26 DEGREES BELOW ZERO THAT YEAR.  THIS
SHATTERED THE PREVIOUS LOW RECORD OF 14 BELOW ZERO AT
REEDSVILLE OF PRESTON COUNTY HELD SINCE CHRISTMAS
1935.  THE COLDEST CHRISTMAS TEMPERATURE IN VIRGINIA WAS 20
DEGREES BELOW ZERO IN 1983.  THIS FRIGID REPORT WAS FROM
MOUNTAIN LAKE OF GILES COUNTY.

ANOTHER VERY COLD CHRISTMAS DAY IN WEST VIRGINIA WAS IN 1980
WHEN DAWN READINGS WERE ON EITHER SIDE OF THE ZERO MARK.
IN 1989...ARCTIC SUB ZERO TEMPERATURES WERE ENDURED FROM
THE 21ST INTO THE 24TH.  GLADY AND CHEAT BRIDGE WERE 33 DEGREES
BELOW ZERO ON THE 24TH.  IN SOUTHEAST OHIO...ATHENS WAS 27 BELOW
ZERO ON THE 22ND.  HOWEVER...THE EXTREME COLD EXITED BY
CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1989. IN ITS WAKE...MOST RIVERS WERE FROZEN
SOLID FOR THE HOLIDAY.

NORMAL TEMPERATURES FOR DECEMBER 25TH ARE LOWS IN THE 20S
AND HIGH READINGS IN THE UPPER 30S TO LOWER 40S.

TURNING OUR ATTENTION TO SNOW DEPTHS...THE MOST SNOW REPORTED
ON THE GROUND AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING WAS 27 INCHES AT
SPRUCE KNOB IN 1963.  IN VIRGINIA...THE MOST SNOW ON THE GROUND
AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS WAS 13 INCHES FROM BIG MEADOWS OF MADISON
COUNTY IN 1966.

CHRISTMAS 1935 WAS WHITE AND COLD FOR A LOT OF WEST VIRGINIA.
THE COLD AIR STARTED RUSHING IN DURING CHRISTMAS EVE...DUMPING
A FEW INCHES OF SNOW.  CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1935 FOLLOWED WITH
SNOW SHOWERS AND EVEN COLDER TEMPERATURES.  QUOTING OLD
WEATHER BUREAU RECORDS FOR DECEMBER 1935, "DURING THE
AFTERNOON AND EVENING OF THE 25TH, A SEVERE BLIZZARD FOLLOWED
A WIND SHIFT LINE, PREVAILED OVER THE STATE, ATTENDED BY HIGH
WINDS, ZERO TEMPERATURES, AND HEAVY SNOWFALL." /END OF QUOTE/
IN 1996...A WEATHER RADIO LISTENER IN HUNTINGTON TOLD US HIS
RECOLLECTIONS...WHICH AGREE WITH THE PRECEDING QUOTE.  HE
HAD 4 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND CHRISTMAS MORNING IN
1935...THEN AT 4 PM IT GOT REAL DARK.  HE SAID A SNOW SQUALL
DUMPED 5 INCHES OF SNOW IN ABOUT AN HOUR...WITH TEMPERATURES
FALLING BELOW ZERO.

THE COLD DECEMBER OF 1963 PRODUCED FREQUENT LIGHT SNOWS AND
A PROLONG SNOW COVERING OF A FEW INCHES.

IN 1966...A DEVELOPING COASTAL STORM BLANKETED MUCH OF WEST
VIRGINIA WITH SEVERAL INCHES OF SNOW FROM LATE ON THE 23RD INTO
THE 24TH.  THIS RESULTED IN THE DEEPEST SNOW COVER FOR CHRISTMAS
MORNING FOR SEVERAL COMMUNITIES IN WEST VIRGINIA FROM THE
INTERSTATE 79 CORRIDOR ON EAST AND SOUTH.

MANY BABY BOOMERS CAN RECALL THE SNOW ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN
1969.  HOWEVER, THAT "NOR-EASTER" STARTED A BIT LATE TO AFFECT
THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS BY DAWN.  THE SNOW STARTED DURING  THE
MID MORNING TO NOON TIME PERIOD ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA AND
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA ON THAT CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1969.  THE SNOW
CONTINUED THROUGHOUT CHRISTMAS NIGHT AND INTO THE NEXT DAY. FIVE
TO 10 INCHES OF NEW SNOW WAS COMMON ACROSS WEST VIRGINIA. EVEN
MORE SNOW FELL IN THE MOUNTAINS AND  EASTERN  PANHANDLE.
MARTINSBURG HAD A   FOOT OF SNOW ON THE  GROUND BY DAWN ON THE
26TH.  ROANOKE VIRGINIA STARTED CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1969 WITH
NO SNOW ON THE GROUND.  BY DAWN ON THE 26TH...ROANOKE HAD 15
INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND.

THE COLD DECEMBER OF 1989 PRODUCED A WHITE CHRISTMAS THROUGHOUT
THE CENTRAL APPALACHIANS ALONG WITH FROZEN RIVERS.

A LACK OF SNOW WAS SEEN FOR THE 3 YEARS FROM 2006 THROUGH 2008.
2008 WAS THE THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR OF NO SNOW ANYWHERE IN THE
MOUNTAIN STATE EVEN ACROSS THE HIGH MOUNTAINS. THAT WAS VERY
UNUSUAL FOR WEST VIRGINIA.

LAST YEAR...IN 2010...AFTER A WARM OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER...IT TURNED
SHARPLY COLDER IN DECEMBER WITH FREQUENT ROUNDS OF SNOW. DECEMBER
2010 WAS AMONG THE TOP TEN COLDEST DECEMBERS FOR MANY WEST VIRGINIA
TOWNS.  ACCUMULATING SNOW WAS NOTED ON THE 4TH AND 5TH IN ONE STORM.
CLOUDS AND SNOW SHOWERS WERE FREQUENT DURING THE 2ND WEEK OF
DECEMBER IN 2010.  ANOTHER SNOW STORM HIT ON THE 15TH INTO THE 16TH
WITH 3 TO 6 INCHES OF SNOW COMMON.  THE CLOUDS AND COLD
TEMPERATURES CONTINUED THROUGH THE WINTER SOLSTICE. ON DECEMBER
24TH IN 2010 SOME SUNSHINE BROKE THROUGH THE CLOUDS.  AFTERNOON
TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE MID 20S TO LOWER 30S.  OLD SNOW COVER WAS
STILL 1 TO 3 INCHES IN DEPTH IN THE HUNTINGTON...PARKERSBURG...
CLARKSBURG...CHARLESTON AREA.  HOWEVER...THE OLD SNOW HAD
DISAPPEARED IN THE SOUTHERN COAL FIELDS AROUND WILLIAMSON. THERE
WAS NO SNOW ON THE GROUND CHRISTMAS EVE IN THE FAR EASTERN
PANHANDLE...AROUND CHARLES TOWN AND MARTINSBURG. CLOUDS THICKENED
FROM THE WEST CHRISTMAS EVE...WITH LIGHT SNOW DEVELOPING WHEN
SANTA WAS ARRIVING IN WEST VIRGINIA.  THE SNOW DID NOT REACH THE
EASTERN PANHANDLE UNTIL AROUND DAWN.  ONE TO 2 INCHES OF NEW SNOW
FELL BY DAWN IN MUCH OF WEST VIRGINIA...EXCEPT IN PARTS OF THE 2
PANHANDLES. WHEELING AND MARTINSBURG DID NOT HAVE AN INCH OF SNOW
ON THE GROUND AT DAWN ON CHRISTMAS IN 2010. OTHERWISE...MOST
AREAS HAD SNOW ON THE GROUND. THE DEEPEST SNOW ON THE GROUND AT
DAWN IN 2010 WAS 14 INCHES ON THE MOUNTAINTOP NEAR RICHWOOD AND AT
CANAAN VALLEY. TERRA ALTA...MCROSS...AND SNOWSHOE HAD 13 INCHES ON
THE GROUND. A FOOT OF SNOW WAS ON THE GROUND NEAR DAVIS. A SNOW
COVER OF 1 TO 3 INCHES WERE COMMON OVER THE WESTERN
LOWLANDS...INCLUDING PARKERSBURG...MORGANTOWN...CLARKSBURG...
CHARLESTON...AND WILLIAMSON. ONE TO 3 INCHES OF SNOW WAS ALSO
COMMON IN NORTHEAST KENTUCKY AND SOUTHEAST OHIO. FOR
EXAMPLE...ASHLAND HAD ONE INCH...GRAYSON 2 INCHES...OLIVE HILL 4
INCHES...AND ATHENS OHIO HAD 2 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND. IN
SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA...CLINTWOOD HAD 5 INCHES OF SNOW ON THE
GROUND...WHILE NORA AND THE BREAKS INTERSTATE PARK HAD 4 INCHES OF
SNOW ON THE GROUND AT DAWN IN CHRISTMAS 2010. THE EARLY MORNING
SNOW DECREASED QUICKLY IN MOST OF WEST VIRGINIA EARLY CHRISTMAS
MORNING. TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE 20S. SOME FLAKES OF SNOW FELL
DURING THE DAY...WHILE HEAVY SNOW FELL TO OUR SOUTH...IN WESTERN
AND NORTHERN NORTH CAROLINA. AFTERNOON TEMPERATURES WERE IN THE
20S TO AROUND 30 ON CHRISTMAS DAY LAST YEAR.

THE COLD PATTERN LINGERED A FEW MORE DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS IN
2010...WITH ROUNDS OF SNOW SHOWERS.



THE FOLLOWING IS SPECIFIC DATA FOR SEVERAL TOWNS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
TEMPERATURE FACTS GO BACK INTO THE EARLY 1900S. MAXIMUM SNOW DEPTH
FOR DAWN CHRISTMAS DAY IS SINCE 1950.  WHITE CHRISTMAS IS DEFINED
HERE, AS AT LEAST HAVING A SNOW COVER OF AN INCH AT DAWN. SOME
SITES LISTED HAVE NOT MAINTAINED CONTINUOUS RECORDS.


                                          MOST SNOW  LAST 3 WHITE
            RECORD HIGH   RECORD LOW      ON GRND     CHRISTMAS
CITY        TEMP   YEAR   TEMP  YEAR      AT DAWN     MRNGS/7AM

CHARLESTON   76 1982      MINUS 10 1983   5 1966     2010/1999/95

ELKINS       68 1982      MINUS 17 1983   8 1969     2010/09/03

HUNTINGTON   76 1982      MINUS  9 1983   4 1963     2010/1993/89

PARKERSBURG  70 1982      MINUS 10 1983   5 1963     2010/1993/89

BECKLEY      66 1982      MINUS 15 1983  13 1963     2010/09/03

BLUEFIELD    64 1982      MINUS 13 1983   9 2009     2010/09/03

MARTINSBURG  67 1964      MINUS 12 1983   6 2009     2009/02/00

MORGANTOWN   71 1982      MINUS 13 1983  3 2009/1995 2010/09/00
                                          AND 1989

CLARKSBURG   72 1982      MINUS 11 1983    6 2009    2010/09/00

WELLSBURG/   66 1964      MINUS 10 1983    6 1963    2000/1995/93
WHEELING     AND 1982

WESTON       70 1964      MINUS 11 1983    6 2009    2010/09/00

ATHENS OHIO  69 1964      MINUS 17 1983    8 1963    2010/1995/93

CLINTWOOD VA 70 1982      NOT AVBL 1983    9 1963    2010/09/1999

ROANOKE VA 68 1982       MINUS 4 1983    7 2009/1962 2010/09/1993


LOOKING AT THE TABLE...LAST YEAR...2010...WAS THE FIRST WHITE
CHRISTMAS IN 17 YEARS FOR HUNTINGTON AND PARKERSBURG...AND THE
FIRST IN 15 YEARS AT ATHENS OHIO.


THIS YEAR...2011...AFTER AN EARLY TASTE OF SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS ON
THE 1ST OF OCTOBER...NOVEMBER WAS WET WITH PLENTY OF RAIN.  THE
MONTHLY AVERAGE TEMPERATURE WAS SOME 3 TO 4 DEGREES WARMER THAN
NORMAL IN NOVEMBER 2011. A 2 TO 6 INCH SNOW OCCURRED ON DECEMBER 7TH
ACROSS THE MOUNTAINOUS COUNTIES.  HOWEVER...MANY RESIDENTS OF THE
LOWLANDS HAVE NOT SEEN A FLAKE OF SNOW THROUGH THE 15TH OF DECEMBER.

DESPITE THE LACK OF SNOW THROUGH THE 15TH...STILL MONITOR
FORECASTS FOR TRENDS...AS WE GET CLOSER TO CHRISTMAS EVE AND
CHRISTMAS MORNING.

NO MATTER WHAT THE WEATHER IS THIS CHRISTMAS SEASON...ALL THE FOLKS
WORKING AT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICES
WISH YOU A BRIGHT HOLIDAY SEASON.


________________________________________


K BATTY
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE CHARLESTON WV




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