Remembering the ‘Big Snow’ of January 2000

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Twenty years ago this week, record-setting snow hit central North Carolina.

We had not seen anything quite like it before, and definitely nothing like it since.

The January 24-25, 2000 winter storm blanketed the Triangle in over 20 inches of snow.

Jonathan Blaes is a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Raleigh and remembers it well.

“I remember the snow just dumping on us that night, and the snow piling up as quick as I’ve ever seen it.”

The storm was the third of four storms to hit central North Carolina during the last two weeks of January.

A couple of days earlier, a weak storm with about an inch of snow moved off our coast and a second low-pressure system developed over Florida on the 24th.

Computer models kept the low weak with the heaviest precipitation staying offshore. Boy was that wrong!

Blaes says, “the storm could be described as in many ways could be described as the perfect storm for snow lovers, but an imperfect storm for forecasters.”

As this first system cleared away, that low-pressure system over Florida really intensified.

The low was supposed to stay offshore but as it moved close to our coast; and into the cold air, the snow just banded and pummeled central North Carolina.

“On that night of the storm, there were thunderstorms exploding over Alabama and Mississippi, that was a sign that trouble was coming, and in the current day we would have seen that a little bit earlier and jumped on that earlier and had a better forecast,” Blaes remembers

Blaes says computer modeling has improved greatly since 2000 and he doubts we would ever be that surprised again.

The storm will long be remembered for its record snow amounts, and how thousands of businesses and homes were without power for several days.

So, what are the chances of another storm like this happening again?

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but it doesn’t look like its likely to happen in the foreseeable future,” says Blaes.

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