Today Marks Anniversary of Second Coldest State Temperature Ever Recorded

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV) – The more seasonably cold temperatures (compared to earlier this week) pushing across southern West Virginia this weekend would have been considered a ‘heatwave’ just 38 years ago today.

An anomalous dip in the jet stream with an Arctic high invading the northern Rockies on January 21, 1985, pushed the mercury down to minus-36 degrees in Snowshoe, W.Va. This is the second coldest reading ever recorded in West Virginia.

A snapshot of the jet stream on January 21, 1985 when Snowshoe, W.Va., set the record for the second coldest West Virginia temperature. (Courtesy of NOAA)

Lewisburg has the state’s record for the coldest temperature on record at minus-37 degrees on December 30, 1917. The surface map from that particular day shows Arctic high pressure nestled right along I-79 on that day.

A snapshot of the surface map from December 30, 1917 when Lewisburg set the state’s coldest low temperature ever recorded. (Courtesy NOAA)

Just as a side note, the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Arctic blast we just experienced a month ago didn’t even come close to matching the state records. Davis, W.Va., (near Snowshoe), dipped to minus-15 degrees while Lewisburg dropped to minus-6 degrees.

The difference in the magnitude of the cold air mass from 38 years ago to last month’s Christmas cold outbreak is due to the snowpack. During the 1985 extreme cold, several inches of snow had already been on the ground earlier in January. Additional fresh snow helped push the snow depth to at least a foot by January 21. This much snow on the ground will radiate away much more heat than a few inches of newly fallen snow on top of a warm surface, such as what transpired on Christmas Eve.

The storm track next week finally favors a return to wintry weather in southern West Virginia. Stay tuned for the latest from the StormWatch4 Weather Center.

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