ON THIS DAY: The Great Southeast Snowstorm of 1973

Southwest, Central Virginia dodged a bullet from this huge snowstorm

By Chris Michaels - Meteorologist

ROANOKE, Va. - Imagine our December 9 snowstorm, which dropped a widespread 12-18" of snow on our area, but at the beach. Pretty crazy, right?

That's essentially what was going on around this time in 1973. Our area, believe it or not, actually dodged a bullet from this storm. 

Meanwhile, places like Wilmington, North Carolina saw 12.5" of snow between February 9 and 11 of 1973. Charleston, South Carolina got more than half a foot of snow from that storm. Even as far south as Pensacola, Florida - they saw close to two inches of fresh snow. 

Meanwhile, in Danville we got a quarter of an inch of rain. Lame!

One big part of why it snowed so much (in places that usually don't see snow of this magnitude) was the position of the jet stream. There was such a large and pronounced dip in the jet stream that made the air cold enough to sustain snow. 

Secondly, because of this large dip, a chunk of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico could move into the southeastern US and the East Coast. Cold air + moisture = potential for a big snow.

Meanwhile, the most active winter weather in the present day has been in the Pacific Northwest. 

Since December 9th, most of our area has essentially been snow-starved. As I type up this article, pockets of light freezing rain and sleet are moving through the area. 

There's no sign that we see a big snow, at least within the next seven to ten days. Our advice, if you're looking for that big snow, is to book a flight to the Sierra Nevada or Seattle. 

Or if you have a secret time machine, head back to 1973 and hitch a ride to the Carolinas. You won't be disappointed!

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