Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect today’s forecast. It first appeared on UVA Today on Jan. 21, 2016.

The University of Virginia’s McCormick Observatory has kept official snowfall records since 1894, and while powerful nor’easters in March may seem rare, UVA environmental scientist and climatologist Jerry Stenger said that the region has seen some major snowfall from these late-season storms in the past.

March nor’easters “don’t happen all that often, but they do happen and they can be whoppers,” he said. “At this time of year, it’s around a 50 percent chance that you’ll get measurable snowfall before winter is over.”

As the first nor’easter of 2017 arrives on Grounds, here’s a look at some of the largest recorded snowfalls in UVA’s history, as documented by photography and newspaper records.

1. Jan. 27-28, 1922 — 24.0 inches

To date, this is the largest recorded snowfall in Charlottesville history. The Charlottesville Daily Progress reported “traffic by auto almost completely suspended and electric cars unable to run.” Records indicate it was later dubbed “the Knickerbocker Storm.”

2. Jan. 7-8, 1996 — 21.0 inches

Area schools were closed for an entire week, but fortunately, the University was between semesters – and January Term had not yet been instituted.

3. Dec. 19-20, 2009 — 20.5 inches

This storm gave rise to the infamous student-created “Mount Chipotle National Research Laboratory,” named for a massive pile of plowed snow in Barracks Road Shopping Center near a certain fast-food establishment. The students maintained a pool seeking predictions on when the pile would finally melt. The group’s blog still exists online.

4. Feb. 13, 1899 — 18.0 inches

The Daily Progress reported that this storm brought “forty-eight hours of steady and merciless snow.”

5. Mar. 6-7, 2013 — 16.5 inches

This marked the third time classes were cancelled for weather that academic year and forced the postponement of many midterms.

6. Feb. 13-15, 2014 — 15.9 inches

Students constructed an igloo on the Lawn during this 2014 storm. See more student photos.

7. Jan. 23-24, 2016— 15.5 inches

UVA was blanketed by winter storm Jonas in late January of 2016.

8. Feb. 5-6, 2010 — 14.7 inches

But classes were canceled for just one day.

9. Dec. 12-13, 1989 — 14.5 inches

10. Feb. 2-3, 1996 — 14.0 inches


Other notable snowstorms not featured on this list include:

  • Mar. 5-7, 1962 — 23.8 inches
  • Feb. 11-12, 1983 — 16.3 inches
  • Dec. 26, 1969 — 16.0 inches
  • Mar. 16-17, 1960 — 13.5 inches
  • Jan. 22-23, 1987 — 13.0 inches
  • Jan. 5-4, 1980 — 12.6 inches
  • Feb. 15-16, 1958 — 12.3 inches
  • Mar. 3-4, 1960 — 12.3 inches
  • Mar. 11, 1924 — 12.0 inches
  • Jan. 26-27, 1966 — 12.0 inches
  • Mar. 13-14, 1993 — 12.0 inches

Editor’s note, March 13, 2017: This story has been updated to reflect today’s forecast. It first appeared on UVA Today on Jan. 21, 2016.

Media Contact

Anthony P. de Bruyn

University Spokesperson Office of University Communications