Winter Storm Database | Event Details

Heavy Snow, Freezing Rain, Sleet
Started: January 6, 1996 at 11 am EST
Ended: January 7, 1996 at 9 pm EST
In northwest and north-central North Carolina, up to 2 feet of snow on the 6th and 7th closed schools and businesses for several days, stranded motorists, halted mail deliveries, trash pickups, and church services, closed secondary roads in the mountains, and resulted in one injury and two fatalities. Light snow developed across the mountains during the late evening hours on the 5th and early morning hours on the 6th. Snowfall amounts were mainly from 1 to 3 inches through the late morning hours on the 6th. The snow became heavy in Watauga, Ashe, and Alleghany Counties during the late morning hours on the 6th and spread eastward. In Stokes, Yadkin, Rockingham, and Caswell Counties, the precipitation was mixed with sleet at times. Snow depths during the early evening hours on the 7th were generally from 18 to 24 inches in the mountains, and ranged from 8 to 14 inches east of the mountains. In the mountains, the snow combined with winds of 15 to 30 mph with higher gusts on the 7th and 8th resulted in snow drifts up to 10 feet high.

Two men died, one in Westfield in Surry County and one in Pinnacle in Stokes County, after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow. A woman suffered hypothermia and frostbite after she fell into a snow drift on her way to work in Alleghany County. The weight of the snow collapsed a chicken house in Benham in eastern Wilkes County. Approximately 17,000 chickens were killed. Total damage was estimated at nearly $130,000. In addition, several greenhouses and awnings collapsed under the weight of the snow in Surry and Caswell Counties. There were numerous traffic accidents and the heavy snow indirectly resulted in several injuries and two fatalities. A traffic accident just west of Mount Airy cost two people their lives and injured another. The National Guard used several humvees and a few armored personnel carriers to transport medical and emergency personnel to work or to those in need. Numerous storm shelters were established across the area. Prior to the storm and after the storm, many grocery stores sold out of perishable items like bread, milk, and eggs. There were several heroic life saving efforts to get medical attention, medicine, or food to those stranded. There were a few minor power outages in the mountains.

Many areas of central North Carolina received a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain. In Raleigh, 4 inches of densely packed snow and ice fell, which consisted of at least 2 inches of sleet. Further south, over the Sandhills and Coastal Plain, mostly freezing rain mixed with sleet fell. Glaze collected on trees and power lines, causing extensive power outages from Laurinburg to Fayetteville to Wilson.

Rain gradually changed to freezing rain and then snow and sleet across the southern Piedmont. The precipitation continued well into the next day. The layer of ice under the 1 to 2 inches of snow (3 to 4 inches in Gaston County) caused serious traffic problems. The ice accumulation was enough to cause widespread power outages around the Charlotte Metro area. All across western and central North Carolina, numerous traffic accidents and sledding accidents were reported. There were numerous indirect injuries and a few fatalities associated with the storm. Most injuries and deaths were traffic related. In Alexander, a man was crushed when an outbuilding collapsed from the weight of the snow.

Brutally cold conditions followed the snow with very windy conditions reported. Blizzard conditions may have been reached in some areas. Extreme cold followed the storm in much of the mountains with wind chills of 20 to 30 below zero.
Property Damage$14,000 to $40,000Crop Damagenot available
Atmospheric MapsLarge-scale maps of 500 mb Heights, Jet Stream Winds, and Sea Level Pressure from this event
Event Analysis from the National Weather Service in Raleigh
Weather Station Data

Freezing Rain