RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Tuesday is the anniversary of the biggest snowstorm to ever hit central North Carolina.
Snow started falling in North Carolina during the afternoon and evening on Jan. 24, 2000, and when it stopped the next day, there were as much as 24 inches of snow on the ground.
It’s a storm that many remember clearly as it set an all-time single storm snow accumulation record at RDU International Airport with 20.3 inches.
An average winter in the Triangle only brings us around 5 inches of snow.
The heavy snow and strong wind gusts caused thousands of businesses and residents to lose power for several days.
Then Gov. Jim Hunt declared a state of emergency.
Residents even remember being stuck in their homes for days on end because plows could not clear the roads.
More than 300,000 people in North and South Carolina were left without power and National Guard troops were called out to help stranded motorists.
That particular January was unusually active with four winter storms in two weeks.
This record-setter was the third of four winter storm events. It started with a few inches of snow on Jan. 17-18, 2000.
Snow and ice fell in small amounts on Jan. 23, 2000, before the big event on Jan. 24-25, 2000.
Another minor sleet and ice event moved through Jan. 30, 2000
As the system on Jan. 23 moved away from North Carolina, another low-pressure system developed over Florida on the morning of Jan. 24.
This system strengthened moving north along the North Carolina coast resulting in the record snow amounts.
This system was also very poorly forecast with little to no precipitation forecast 24-48 hours ahead of the event. Many lessons were learned from this record storm, including the over-reliance on computer model forecasts.
This system impacted a large part of North Carolina as some locations on the coast, like Wilmington, received nearly 5 inches of snow.