3.4" snow at O: But not enough to reload groundwater
How much did it snow on January 26? Well, it depends on where you were.
According to UVA Climatologist Jerry Stenger, most of the Charlottesville/ Albemarle area got just two inches–- far less than the four to seven inches that had been predicted by the National Weather Service. However, Stenger points out that thanks to cooler air out there, the Shenandoah Valley averaged 7-10 inches from the late-January precipitation event.
As every local parent knows, those two inches meant the closure of Albemarle County Schools, which takes a cautious approach to putting its buses and children out on potentially slippery roads.
One of the big nearby winners in bragging rights for snowfall depth was Fishersville which got 10 inches; and, according to Stenger, some parts of Loudoun County got over a foot.
Speaking of bragging rights, the Hook's Facebook page offered a little contest as the snow began for the person who guessed closest to the total snowfall reported at Charlottesville's McCormick Observatory. Stenger's crew measured it at 3.4 inches. Doesn't that seem a bit high?
"It was cooler up there," explains Stenger, "so it received more precipitation as snow, and less rain or sleet mixed in, so totals were a bit higher than most of the area."
That also means that Dave Simmons, who guessed 3.33 inches on Facebook, wins four tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters perform their amazing basketball stunts at John Paul Jones Arena on March 6.
Other snowfall totals reported to the UVA climate office include about two inches in Palmyra, about three inches in Louisa, and just an inch in Richmond. Seems like we all needed it, as this has been a very dry winter with total seasonal snowfall at McCormick Observatory just seven inches, or 85 percent of average for this point in the season.
More ominously, only 0.94 inches of precipitation was recorded at McCormick in January, making the December-to-January total just 3.44 inches–- or about half the typical amount.
"Winter is always an important time of year for long-term moisture recharge because evaporation is low and the water has an opportunity to be absorbed deeper into the ground," says Stenger. "Given that moisture levels were generally down at the end of last year's growing season, a lack of recharge this winter could spell problems for water supplies this summer."
And in case it has seemed somewhat cold this winter, it sure has.
Since the McCormick Observatory recorded its first freezing temperature for this season
on November 27th, there were a total of 59 days (up to and including Thursday the 27th) that have seen temperatures at or below freezing.
"That's an all-time record number of freezing days for the same period," say Stenger, whose office began keeping records back in 1893.