RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Twenty-one years ago on Jan. 24-25 a massive winter storm parked over the Triangle and dumped nearly two feet of snow.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded 20.3″ of snow. Even coastal counties recorded up to 5″ of snow.
CBS 17 Storm Team Meteorologist Bill Reh was on-air at the time and said the winter storm was a total “surprise.”
“And that was an interesting winter because there wasn’t really winter weather until we got into the middle of January,” said Reh.
On Jan. 24, 2000, a low-pressure developed off the coast of Florida. Models 48-hours out had the storm staying mainly off the coast of North Carolina as it tracked up the eastern seaboard.
“What happened was that morning to that night, it was so interesting to see the models do a 180 complete turn,” Reh said.
The storm tracked west and the highest snowfall totals occurred over central North Carolina.
“The snow just kept coming down, coming down, and I was trying to get out to come to Raleigh, and I went this far and couldn’t go anywhere,” Reh said.
He said the storm paralyzed traffic and Interstate 95 trucks that typically travel from the southeast to the northeast couldn’t go anywhere.
“The last time we had a snow like this storm was in the 1900s,” Reh said.
He said computer models performed poorly forecasting the winter storm’s track. Since the January 2000 storm, models have improved, but Reh said he learned it’s always important to rely on human analysis.
“People were upset with meteorologists at that time and the jokes continued for a long time, but everyone missed it, so what can you do? Even though we’ve come a long way with computer models, it’s still an unpredictable science.”
The January 2000 storm doesn’t happen often, but it was something Reh said the state of North Carolina will never forget.