Winter Weather: Introduction

Precipitation TypesAtmospheric PatternsImpactsClimatologyWinter Storm Database


What is Winter Weather in North Carolina?

North Carolina winter weather consists of storms that produce snow, sleet, freezing rain or a wintry mix of multiple precipitation types. It is not uncommon to experience every mode of wintry precipitation in any given storm, due to the nature and atmospheric conditions that are commonly found in NC winter storms.

Along with wintry precipitation, NC winter weather also includes outbreaks of bitterly cold, Arctic air that can send overnight lows well into the teens and even single digits! Monthly average temperatures are the coldest in January. However, it is not uncommon to see these values much higher or lower depending on the weather pattern. Below are the coldest average highs and lows (which occur in mid-January) for Boone (located in the mountains), Raleigh (located in the piedmont), and Wilmington (located at the coast) which illustrates the amount of variation in temperatures across the state in winter.

· Boone: Normal January high: 39.3°F; Normal January low: 19.6°F

· Raleigh: Normal January high: 49.8°F; Normal January low: 29.6°F

· Wilmington: Normal January high: 56.2°F; Normal January low: 33.3°F

Geographic Influences

Due to NC’s proximity to the Appalachian Mountains, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf Stream, and Gulf of Mexico, various weather patterns can result in winter weather across the state.

Due to the high variability, infrequency of events, and spacial distribution,
winter weather is one of, if not the most difficult types of weather to forecast in North Carolina.


Precipitation TypesAtmospheric PatternsImpactsClimatologyWinter Storm Database