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Weather Blog: The Great Snowstorm of ’73 - 48 Years Later

Taking a moment to look back at The Great Snowstorm of '73.
Taking a moment to look back at The Great Snowstorm of '73.(WRDW)
Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:55 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’ve had some cold days so far this year in the CSRA and we’ve even seen brief snow in parts of Edgefield and Aiken counties back in the beginning of January (January 8th). February has consisted of some below and near average days but as of this week we saw a streak of above average high temperatures across the CSRA.

A look back at our high temperatures since January 30th.
A look back at our high temperatures since January 30th.(WRDW)

Unfortunately, around this time back in 1973 the CSRA was experiencing one of the strongest and most significant snowstorms ever seen across the region. Today actually marks the last day of The Great Snowstorm of ‘73.

Between February 9-11 in 1973, a giant snowstorm moved through the Southeast dumping over a foot of snow for most places in the CSRA.

Checkout these CSRA Snow Totals:

Augusta: 14″

Aiken: 15″

Waynesboro: 16″

Johnston: 14″

Saluda: 10″

From the National Weather Service in Columbia:

“The snow storm that crossed the Southeastern US from February 9th to February 11th, 1973, brought a record breaking snowfall to South Carolina. Snow fell for approximately 24 hours. The heaviest snowfall was 24 inches measured in Rimini. About 30,000 tourists were stranded on the state’s highways. 8 fatalities resulted. The snow was accompanied by strong winds and followed by severe cold. Drifts up to 8 feet were found in some locations. At least 200 buildings collapsed, as did thousands of awnings and carports. The property damage and road damage plus cost of snow removal and rescue operations were estimated at close to $30 million.”

From the National Weather Service in Wilmington, NC:

“One of the greatest snowstorms in Southeastern United States history occurred February 9-11, 1973. This storm dropped one to two feet of snow across a region that typically sees only an inch or two of snow per year. New all-time snowfall records were established in a number of locations including Rimini, SC with 24 inches; 18 inches in Darlington, SC; and 16.5 inches in Macon, GA. Snowfall in Wilmington, NC reached 12.5 inches with 7.1 inches recorded in Charleston, SC, both setting all-time records which were broken just 16 years later during the Christmas snowstorm of 1989. Measurable snow fell along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida and flurries were reported as far south as Lisbon and Clermont, Florida just outside of Orlando.”

A strong upper level trough combined with a strong area of low pressure off the Southeast coast to produce the record setting snow storm. Here’s a look back at the surface analysis map on February 10th, 1973:

The surface map from February 10th, 1973 showing a strong area of low pressure off the...
The surface map from February 10th, 1973 showing a strong area of low pressure off the southeastern coast of the United States.(WRDW)

Thankfully we are not forecasting a system of this magnitude across the region anytime soon. Be sure to keep it here with your News 12 NBC 26 Weather team for the latest updates on the local forecast.

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