Back in the dark ages, before Doppler, we used to watch the national weather in the winter and note what the weather was in Birmingham. We could almost always count on their snow events being in our back yard a day or so later. Is this just a fantasy memory or is it substantiated by the records?

Posted Updated
MODIS Snow 20 Jan 08
Sue Harris

MIKE MOSS SAYS:      Sue,      While I don't have a quick and simple way to correlate the occurence of snow in Birmingham and the Triangle, in a theoretical sense it is very reasonable that there would be scenarios in which wintry weather in central and northern Alabama would be a precursor to the same over central North Carolina. That is because the same patterns that lead to air cold enough for wintry precipitation interacting with moisture and lift associated with the northwestern portions of storm systems tracking across the southeastern U.S. would tend to bring precipitation to Alabama first and our area a day or two later. There are certainly enough complications involved, along with a sufficiantly large spread of potential scenarios, that the relationship would not be a perfect correlation between the two areas, but it is still a good observation on your part.

As it happens, the stroms system that brought some snow to our area on Saturday 19 Jan 08 was a pretty good example, and in the aftermath of the storms moving out and skies clearing across the southeast, and a color satellite image of the southeast the next day (above) showed very clearly an uneven swath of snow cover left behind on the ground by the storm system that crossed the region on the 18th and 19th. In this case the snow left behind starts in south-central Mississippi, runs northeast through Alabama and northwest GA, shows a bit of a break, then continues across central NC and into eastern VA (the snow over western NC and western VA was left behind by a different storm a couple of days earlier). This image and a North Carolina snowfall accumulation map for the 19 January storm are included in a blog post on the storm that you can see at


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