NBC12 Engineer Remembers REAL Snow!

One of the great things about working at NBC12 is the people we work with behind the scenes.  Engineer Tom Ogburn is one of those people.  He has been reminiscing lately with us about when it REALLY used to snow.  You snow-lovers out there are going to love this.  (Click the link below to see Tom’s spreadsheet in .pdf form).

Here’s a note Tom:

Here is the snowfall information from the NWS for the winter seasons from the late 50’s to the early 70s. You’ll see why I remember that being such a snowy period when I was growing up.

 Where the records showed a trace of snow, I changed that to .1 inches in order for the totals and averages to work in the spreadsheet.

 There were several white Christmases and several semi-white Christmases, where snow just lingered long enough to keep the ground somewhat white. There was also a major ice storm over new year’s one year. I think it was the 62-63 winter, but I’m not sure.

January 1966 was the month with the back-to-back storms I remember best. We were out of school about 10 days in a row.

 There were some pretty significant icing events that compounded the winter situations here that are not reflected in the snow totals 

 

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19 Responses to NBC12 Engineer Remembers REAL Snow!

  1. wyn says:

    Nice comments all and thanks for the data Mr. T. Yep, I recall it was amazing that Willet closed the schools for over 1 day. We never got a snow day and would be anxiously listening to WRVA in the am hoping- usually w/o success.

  2. Tommy says:

    Thanks for the data. Is it possible to complete it up through about 1990? I can remember a few big snows in the late 70’s through the mid 80’s that had us digging out for days. We missed weeks of school because of the bad snows during those winters. It’s been a while since we have seen snows like that in Richmond.

    • Tom O says:

      My complete dataset only goes through the mid 1970s.

      However, I believe I can come up with some more information regarding individual snowfalls in the 1980s. I just don’t have as complete information regarding monthly and yearly totals for the 80s and 90s as I had for the 1930s through the 1970s. That was a remarkable dataset I came across back then. It covered every major city in the US and a number of cities overseas.

      Hopefully I will be posting more information on the blog when I have time.

  3. Tom O says:

    Thanks for the cmments all.

    Sorry I burst your bubble about your March birthday, Beaux.

    However, remember that the data was based on observations at “Byrd Field”, and it’s possible we had flurries in the city proper that day. I’ll recheck my sources and see if anything else turns up.

    Match Game – ha, that’s wonderful!!!!

    I don’t have any real official monthly data for the 80’s when we had some whopper snows. My information comes from a very complete data book that I purchased in the late 70s that covers the 1930s through the 70s for every major city in the US. Now, you can get monthly/yearly data from various online sources, but it’ll cost ya plenty, and I haven’t persuded it.

    Regarding solar cycles – there is a lot of ongoing research looking into relationships between climate and the single (13 year) and double (26 year) solar cycles. There are other cycle patterns that are being looked at as well – I believe on is a 180 year cycle. Also being looked at is how the LENGTH of a solar cycle influences climate. Total solar irradiance is something else (not necessarily related to sunspots) that is seriously being looked at as well, including its relationship with earth’s ionosphere and the influences of cosmic rays on earth’s climate during periods of low solar activity. We are currently in a period of very, very low solar activity, and I’m interested to see how this plays out in the next few years. There was a period of very low solar activity during the 1700s that corresponded to what’s referred to a period called the “little ice age”.

    There was a major solar cycle that peaked in 1958, so taking the 13 year solar cycle, dividing by half giving approx 7 years, means that solar activity was at a minimum in the mid 60s.

    Do some goodle searches on these topics and see what fascinating stuff turns up, including how this all ties into “global warming”.

    I concur with the comment regarding wearing coats in September, as I remember some very chilly nights at the state fair.

    Dr. Willett was the school super in the 60’s, and I remember that in the winter of 65-66 he sent us to school on a Monday, even though 8 inches had come down on Sunday, because we had already been out of school so much that year. None of us had done any homework, as we were SURE we would not be going to school on Monday! Yes I think 6 inches was about the magic number – no wimpy flurry or 3 inch closings for us “back when”!

    DISCLAIMER: I’m not a meteorologist or a climatologist, and I DID NOT stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    Happy snowboarding!

  4. Beaux Zeaux says:

    Oh No – this data breaks my heart. My late father used to tell me that it snowed on my nose when they brought me home from my birth at Stuart Circle Hospital in 3/58 but the data shows 0″ snow for the month so I guess it was all a lie. Or maybe it just stuck to my nose & not on the ground! An even bigger place for snow was in Blacksburg and the truth is that classes at VPI are NEVER canceled for snow. I remember my freshman year on May 16 looking out my dorm room window onto the drill field & seeing everyone dressed in spring attire bustling their sweaters tight, holding their heads down rushing for cover in a heavy fluke snow flurry that broke out that afternoon. That sight I’ll never forget. Then in the early 1980s back working in Richmond I didn’t think twice about going into work 1 snowy morning. When I arrived at work I was one of only a very few who did. Administration said those who came in would all get an extra day of vacation for making it in, but could go on back home. Those who didn’t show got docked a vacation day. That one later turned into a Richmond snow that topped my knee high boots (e.g. 14″ +), but it didn’t slow many of us from getting around. Thanks for your insightful record keeping TO!

  5. Aaron Pillhead says:

    Didn’t Tom Ogburn used to host Match Game?

  6. Barry says:

    This is great data! I’m curious how this follows the solar cycle. I notice about a 12 year period of increased snowfall.

  7. Wes says:

    Another difference about these big snows of the ’60s is that it was very rare for school systems to announce closings the night before (unlike today). We would get up early and huddle around the radio well before dawn to find out if we had school or could go back to bed.

    I always felt that winter meant BIG snows back then; but this is the first data compilation that clearly shows it. Thanks, Tom!

    By the way, Tom truly knows Richmond. I recall him as a neighbor from Highland Park in the ’50s, then as a radio DJ (as “Big Tom Ogburn”)here in the ’60s. He can tell some stories about this city, I’m sure!

  8. Dave says:

    I’ve also been telling people about the winters we had in the 1960’s (they’re probably tired of hearing about it). In fact, I just saw recently that 4 of the top 10 record snowfall years occurred during the 1960’s. We lived on a farm in Powhatan a mile off of the main highway, and I remember having to haul Dad and his car up to the highway with a chain attached to a Farmall tractor more than once. As a teenager, I loved all of the snow and spent as much time as I could out in the woods enjoying it, but it was tough on Dad.

  9. davidgentry says:

    I just want to say thank you. I have been saying for years that people should have seen the snows we got in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s. Now I can just point them to the PDF!

    Like KW said, I would be very interested in seeing the results for the 80’s and 90’s.

  10. Tristan says:

    So January and February are the most snowwiest months for Richmond?

  11. Norman says:

    In the ’50s and ’60s I remember the magic number being 6 inches of snow for the city schools. We would hover by the radio and listed for the closings. Yes, we really did complain about the county schools being closed and Richmond schools being open. County kids rode school buses and we walked, biked, caught a ride with someone’s parent or rode Va. Transit (GRTC) Many buses ended up stuck at the curb on the highly crowned streets in Ginter Park and Bellevue.
    Today, 6 inches paralyzes Richmond.
    Tom is right about January ’66 being a big one. Even colleges closed, unheard of in the days when most students lived on campus.

  12. KW Tappahannock says:

    Now, I don’t really remember January, 1966 because I was one month old! 🙂 hee heee!! But, I do remember being really little and seeing tons of snow out of the window. My parents also took some pictures–so it was probably that 67-68 winter.

    I hope Tom can do a spreadsheet for the 1980’s (early and mid) too. I remember missing days and days of school ( I grew up in Fauquier, so whatever snowfall in Richmond was probably much worse up there!) Fauquier always has and still does close even for very light snow because the northern end of the county can be very treacherous. I also remember a huge snowstorm in Richmond in 85 or 86–I was at VCU and classes were cancelled for days!

    • JB says:

      Great data from way back when. I agree it would be great to see some more recent data – 80’s to present….I vaguely remember some storms in mid to late 80’s where we had no school for a while.

  13. Don says:

    Maybe we are heading into one of those patterns again…several off years followed by several snowy year. That would be nice!

  14. Carol says:

    I remember those days well. I also remember it being cold in September and wearing coats to football games. I remember sitting in front of the TV waiting to hear if our schools would be closed when it snowed. I remember this one particular side road that we used to sleigh down and other kids would stand at the bottom watching for cars and signal to us when it was safe to come down. I know it seems impossible that adults did the same thing that kids do today when it snows. If one county was closed and the other not we’d complain how unfair they got to stay home. And, I remember the adults saying they hoped school would go back soon and how we didn’t understand how dangerous it was and how some people had to work for a living. In 40 plus years not a lot has changed when it comes to kids has it. lol

    Carol

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