Does it snow in Winston Salem, NC? Winston-Salem has pretty mild winters, so people can enjoy the holidays without needing big coats.
In this North Carolina city, the winter weather is usually milder than other places.
And that makes people ask, “Did it snow in Winston Salem NC, in recent times?” And if the area does get its fair share of snow storms, “How often does it snow in Winston Salem, NC?”
Let’s find out now!
Yes, it snows in Winston-Salem, but it is rather sporadic and never accumulates to a level to allow for winter activities, such as skiing.
The Climate of Winston-Salem NC
The Winston-Salem climate is classified as humid and subtropical.
The city lies between the Atlantic and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Piedmont Province.
It sits in a basin on a plateau surrounded by creeks and high mountains. It’s almost 185 miles from the Atlantic ocean, which greatly impacts its climate.
Average Temperatures in Winston Salem
In Winston-Salem, the weather gets really hot for around 3.6 months, starting in late May and lasting until mid-September.
During this time, it is usually pretty hot, with temperatures regularly going above 80F.
The area gets pretty cold for around 3 months, starting in late November and lasting until the end of February.
Here is more about it:
Fact: July is the hottest month in Winston Salem, with temperatures reaching as high as 87°F and dropping to around 70°F at night.
Spring and Summer
Winston-Salem has no dry season but receives precipitation steadily year-round.
Most of it falls as rain over spring and summer from spring storms and late summer hurricanes.
Summers are hot and temperatures typically reach the high 80s. Therefore, the city becomes uncomfortably humid by mid-afternoon during June, July and August.
However, over the year relative humidity levels only show a slight variation, 69% to 71%.
Fall and Winter
Summer temperatures start falling between September and November. Because of the subtropical climate, winters in Winston-Salem tend to be mild but still wet.
Despite the city in the basin, there are never any below zero daytime temperatures.
Here is more about the average high and low temperatures in Winston Salem throughout the year:
Does It Snow in Winston Salem NC?
Yes, it does snow in Winston-Salem, but it is limited to a couple of months and is not a lot either.
Most years it snows somewhere in the city, usually just a thin layer. Most fall in January, as much as 2.8 inches.
However, some snow does occasionally fall in December at the peak of the winter season, and in November and March.
Fact: Although a light dusting somewhere is usual, some years there are significant snowfalls in Winston Salem.
How Much Snow Does Winston-Salem NC Get Each Year?
The sporadic nature of the Winston-Salem snow can be seen in recent records.
At first glance, Winton-Salem’s snowfall pattern looks erratic, and there is a cycle that only becomes obvious over the longer term.
That said, over the century zero snow years have come along less frequently although even this does not mean there was no snow, just not enough for recording.
How are Winters in Winston-Salem NC?
On average there are 75.2 days when the nighttime temperatures are below freezing and these nights have the potential for snow, especially in January, typically the coldest month.
Moreover, Mt. Mitchell is around 143 miles from Winston-Salem.
However, the mount and its fellow mountains, among them Pilot and Pinnacle closer to the city, moderate the winter the city experiences.
There may be deep lying snow on the high peaks but little on the lower slopes or further down in the coastal plain with the basin.
|Average winter conditions Winston-Salem NC||November||December||January||February||March|
|average winter monthly low, 0F||40||33||30||33||40|
|average rainfall, inch||2.9||2.8||2.7||2.6||3.2|
|average snowfall, inches||0.3||2.1||3.3||3.4||1.0|
|snow depth, inches||0||0||0||0||0|
Where to Find Snow in Winston-Salem NC?
The Atlantic Ocean binds Winston-Salem to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian Mountain range to its west.
The mountain ridges were pushed up over 400 million years ago as North America and Europe collided.
At the time, they were the highest in the world, but after so many years, erosion has taken its toll.
The highest peak in North Carolina is Mount Mitchell at 6,684ft, and it is also the highest point in eastern North America.
Its summit is warm in summer, but it holds the record for the coldest place in the state since 1985 (-34oF).
From December to March there’s regular heavy snowfall, a record 50 inches in the blizzard conditions of 1993 and 33 inches in 2016.
Why Is Snow Fall So Rare in Winston-Salem NC?
Statistically, Winston-Salem typically experiences one snow day per year.
This is usually at the beginning of February even though there could be deep snow lying for days, even weeks, in the nearby mountains.
There are several reasons why.
Winston-Salem is on slight elevation at just less than 800 ft on the Piedmont plateau.
It is basically hemmed in between the extensive Appalachians to the west and a coastal plain and the ocean to the east.
The mountains protect the region from the vicious cold air masses that move in from the Midwest and Canada. The air is cooled as it is forced up the mountain slopes toward the peaks where its moisture precipitates out as rain, sleet or snow.
The once snow bearing clouds rarely make it over the ranges to the towns lower down on the plateau.
Fact: Those clouds do not make it to Winston-Salem, or those along the North Carolina coast, like Raleigh, the capital which usually sees less than 2 inches of snow.
The topography around Winston-Salem moderate the climate in summer and winter but a consequence is a subtropical climate with rain year round.
The air is often heavy in water vapor which impedes ice crystal and snow formation.
The warmer air rising from human activity in the city, its urban heat effect, creates a warm layer that melts snowflakes as they pass through.
Even if temperatures are so low the snow makes it to the ground, usually in colder less populated areas, the wet ground means it quickly melts.
The Southern Oscillation
The pattern of frequency in the Winston-Salem snowfall seems erratic to the layman, but that is not the case.
The city’s location actually comes under the influence of a global weather cycle lasting between two and seven years called El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, ENSO that rises in the Pacific.
The ENSO transport moisture far inland in strong warm El Niño years although shifting its route to leave the north of the US and Canada drier.
However, it brings precipitation overland from the east passing the mountains to the North Carolina coastline.
Fact: The ENSO is regulated by surface sea temperatures and atmospheric pressure and influences the position and direction of the global winds.
The colder air masses occasionally shift east enough to break through the protective shield of Appalachians onto the coastal plain.
Most of the time they bring little more than light flurries and the snow doesn’t last. But, every few years, the winds shift so far east that large cold air masses can move unimpeded across the coastal plain.
Fact: In the ‘Storm of Century’ in 1993 nearby Boone got 45 inches, Newfound Gap 36 inches and Mt. Mitchel over 4ft.
Does it snow in Winston Salem? Yes, it does snow in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but not as often or as heavily as in other places in the country.
The city has a hot and humid climate, with winters that are not too cold.
The best part is that you can always plan a vacation in winter and enjoy the weather while exploring some amazing landmarks and natural places in the area.