One of the latest first snows in history, the January 2016 storm

This storm ended up being one of our historic snow storms and in the top 5 for most snowfall
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 4:16 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The winter of 2015-2016 was slow to start in terms of snow. In fact we were getting very close to one of the latest dates for a first snow in the Shenandoah Valley.

After the middle of January, 2016, everything changed. This was a storm we started watching a good 7-10 days in advance for the potential of snow. This was also one of the rare times as forecasters, we knew about 4-5 days in advance this was going to be a big snow storm.

Our WHSV forecast: “We expect reports anywhere from 15″ to 30″ across the area, with the highest amounts east of I-81. There will not be a clear-cut line of who had the most snow. The snow will be highly variable and difficult to measure because of the wind. Most of the area will see 20″-30″ of snow. Do not focus on the totals, either way there will be an enormous amount of snow. Focus more on the impacts.”

Big snow storms

Big storms are dependent on track, intensity and moisture. This low came across the Gulf coast and with the cold air in place, the center of the low moved right along the East coast turning into a Nor’Easter. This was a classic big snow storm setup.

Snow started on Friday morning, January 22nd and didn’t stop until the afternoon of Saturday, January 23.

This was a historic storm in terms of snowfall, this is now our #3 biggest snow storms on record. In Harrisonburg at our Dale Enterprise weather station, we almost tied the record for 24 hour snowfall.

The biggest issues with this storm was the wind, that led to more drifting, and the fact that most of the snow pretty much fell in a 24 hour period. Total duration was closer to 32-36 hours but the majority of the snow fell withing about 24 hours. That makes it very difficult to clear and keep up with for shoveling or plowing.

Snowfall Amounts

The list is ordered by County. Virginia on the left, West Virginia on the right


Snow remained on the ground through about the first of February.

After this blockbuster storm, we had two small snow events in February and about 1″ of snow in March. So even though the winter of 2015-2016 ended up with above average snowfall, it was not a very snowy winter considering most of that snow came in one very big snow storm.


Buildings throughout the Valley dealing with collapsed roofs after the snow and it wasn’t just Wayne Lanes in Waynesboro. Check out this video a viewer sent us, of a poultry house roof collapse in Rockingham County.


Here’s a look at visible satellite after the storm. The white area is where the snow fell

Snow cover across the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, January 2016
Snow cover across the Mid-Atlantic and East Coast, January 2016(NWS)