What's the snowiest part of West Virginia?
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RyanC
January 27, 2006
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
So, I've often wondered where THE snowiest part of WV is. Canaan Valley seems (depending on the source) to average 150-180" per year. I guess it depends on elevation. I'm sure Canaan Heights (along SR-32 between CV & Davis) gets more than the valley floor. Just as the folks at the top of Old Timberline would get more than me (Beaver Ridge/Northpoint).

Snowshoe says they average 180". But the very cold & snowy area around the shoe is a pretty small radius than Canaan. I wonder, are there any colder and snowier parts in the state besides Canaan & Snowshoe? Rumor has it that there are even mountains in NC that receive some kind of snow 12 months per year (don't know how true that is, though).

Also, I find it fascinating that the town of Petersburg, WV (only 20 statute miles from Canaan) averages only 16 in. of snow per year (even less snow & rain than Baltimore!!). What a difference a few miles makes.
bawalker
January 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
I've been told that Pickens, WV averages more snowfall than any other place in WV. How true that is I'm not sure, but I believe it's very close. In fact Pickens does hold the record for the singlemost snowfall per day in WV's history. Pickens is located around 3000' in a small cubbyhole of a hollow southwest of Elkins/Tygarts Valley.

I'm not sure how true that is with Petersburg Averaging 16" of snow per year. Many NOAA records I've read show Hardy County (Petersburg is Grant Co.) averages 40"-50" of snow per year over a time period from 1950 to the current. Having grown up around here and watching Grant County students get out of school more often than us Hardy County students, I believe Grant should be averaging much more than what we do here.

However it's possible for Petersburg to get less than the county average because of their elevation being around 800'-950'. Believe it or not, while Wardensville's elevation is 1000', Branch Mountain's is 2800', Moorefields is only 800 by the Potomac River. This could definately affect snowfall amounts.
RyanC
January 27, 2006
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
The 16" is for the town of Petersburg (got this from the Grant Co. COC website). I'm sure that the rest of the county receives much more snowfall since Petersburg is under 1000'.
bawalker
January 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
That's interesting. Does it list how many years have been included in the average? I could actually see 16" being a legitimate average if they have figured in the snowfalls from like 1995-2005.
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fishnski
January 27, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Pickins & the town of Helvetia (the name of the model of house I just built) are probably the snowiest habitated areas ...but the SNOWIEST REALESTATE in west va is MOUNT PORTE CRAYON & the HIGHEST plateau east of the rocky's that it rises from...the ROARING PLAINS....The Sods are just to low to compete! Canaan Valley & Kumbrabow state park are one of the snowiest places south of central Vermont. Id have to say that Davis is a close 2nd to pickins & Bayard,Wv gets an honorable mention. The reason that Petersburg gets so little snow & every other place east of the alleghany front...is the rain shadow effect of Spruce Knob & the spine of the Mtn's itself. Wiess Knob which is above the Canaan ski area is about as snowy as it gets also. There are 2 4000' mtns just east of Elkins that I would bet get a hell of alot of snow....4675' Pharis Knob leading up to Spruce Knob has to be in the running..
tommo
January 27, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
Quote:

the HIGHEST plateau east of the rocky's ...




It's not clear how you're defining plateau, but by most measures, the Roaring Plains, while a spectacular part of the WV highlands, are not that high by eastern standards. Large, relatively flat areas around Mt. Rogers are all well above 5300' with the high point of 5729 being 1000' higher than Porte Crayon. Many areas of the Black Mountains in NC are considerably higher yet, with 41 peaks in the NC/TN area above 6000'. The highest, of course, is Mt.Mitchell at 6684, over two thousand feet higher than the Roaring Plains. And then there are the high peaks of the Adirondaks and the Whites in NH. Some of these may not get as much snow as the ridges in WV, but let's keep the hyperbole under control. btw, if you want deep snow, you don't need to go high at all - just go to the Tug Hill Plateau near Watertown NY. At the unremarkable elevation of 1700' it is one of the snowest locations in the east with an average well in excess of 200" per year. THE snowiest may be Mt. Washington, NH which averages 256 according to the Mt. Washington Observatory. No wonder Tuckerman's get's so deep
fishnski
January 28, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Tommo, It is not clear what you Define as "plateau". "large flat areas around Mount Rogers" Come on, we are talking 19 square miles of high plateau at the roaring plains not the parking lot at the top of the world at snowshoe! Just as it has been said of Canaan Valley bieng the Highest valley east of the rockys, the Roaring plains have been written up in endless narratives as the highest plateau.....your next argument would be that the valley below the basin at SS is higher than canaan valley...lets put a nip in the Hyperbol! PS The thread was about WV..but since you went there,why stop at the low elevation of the tug hill...go right down to the lakes themselves at 4 to 500 feet where in places they get just as much....does their snow smell like laketrout?
Roger Z
January 28, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I've heard from other places that the Roaring Plains is the highest plateau on the east coast, too. It's almost 600 feet higher than the Dolly Sods immediately to the north. The areas around Mount Rogers aren't plateaus. Those are for the most part rounded ridges based on the intersection of Pine Mountain and Mount Rogers, as well as the natural weathering from wind. One of the distinctive features of a plateau is that its flat exposure does not necessarily parallel the fall line of the mountain upon which it rests. The Sods, for instance, drain south while the mountains that they are on top of fall east and west. The Roaring Plains are the opposite drainage but sit on similarly-situated east-west mountains. Mount Rogers' large flat areas fall in the same direction as the mountain itself- there's no discontinuity and hence no plateau.

Andy, you're probably right that Pharis Knob is one of the snowiest places in the state. Not as snowy as MPC or the Roaring Plains most likely, but I've seen pictures of the nearby Sinks of Gandy and it looks every bit as snowy as CV.

As far as recorded areas go, Pickens has the highest snowfall average in the state. I think it also has the highest precipitation average, too, which explains the snowfall totals. Another interesting question would be to see who has the longest average snow cover per winter (how many days with an inch or more of snow on the ground).
Kris
January 28, 2006
Member since 03/15/2005 🔗
248 posts
I tried to post this last night, so if it shows up twice ignore it.

We took an atv trip to Pickens last year around the middle of april. Most of the steep slopes at CV had grassy patches showing through, some were completely bare. But there were 6 inches of very icy snow on some of the logging roads out there, and some of the snow drifts we played on were well over 4 feet tall. Some of that snow had to stay well into may.
jonjon
January 28, 2006
Member since 04/2/2004 🔗
70 posts
I agree that the Pickens area gets impressive snow -- especially for their elevation. I'm guessing its because they are the first high ridges to the west and get to wring out the most moisture (actually stealing moisture from peaks further to the east such as Snowshoe).

Last year I took a drive out to that area (we probably had about 10-12" of snow on the ground here in the Davis/Canaan Valley area, and Pickens was close to that amount, too -- but driving just a few miles away up into Kumbrabow State Park I was shocked!!! There was probably more like 18-24", especially at the highest part of the park. I wish they still kept snow measurments at the Park Ranger station there -- its a similar elevation as Davis/Canaan, but like I said, a better location moisture-wise (Kumbrabow set the state seasonal record back in the late 50s with 301" of snow).

Terra Alta is sort of like Pickens in that the elevation is a bit lower, but its located on some of the first higher ridges, and gets a good amount of snow!!

Although I don't trust all of their snow reports as I've driven through the town after reports of 8" and truly it looked like no more than 4" had fallen -- I also have the same problem with the Bayard reports, like the 13" they had reported the other day -- I drove out there to check and it was less than we had here in Davis when I had only measured about 8" (I ultimately ended up with 12.2" here).

I can't speak for the accuracy of the snow reports at Pickens, but all I have to say is that if you have a very liberal snow spotter for a couple decades then the snow average for your area can be skewed. Of course it also works the other way if there is someone who underreports or has missing data.

My feeling is that areas of similar elevation along and west of the Allegheny Front get similar amounts, except that the ridges a little further east, even if a little lower, can make up for their elevation by getting a first shot at the moisture being forced up and over the mountains. I also think that being further north helps a little as it puts you closer to the lakes and more likely to be in the best lake enhanced bands. Therefore, I believe that the peaks around Cannan and Timberline get as much as Snowshoe, even though they are about 500' lower in elevation. And of course Mount Porte Crayon would receive the most in the state, due to its elevation and latitude.
fishnski
January 28, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Mr JonJon,Thank you so much..I have been trying to tell these good folks about Kumbrabow for many,many posts. Pound for pound(per elevation) Kumbrabow has got it! Whatever peak or higher elevation that gets in the way of the lake or alberta moisture gets it 1st. Even though Pickins gets a huge amount of snow,More times than not the valley has a greater snow cover.(elevation).Looking at the latest Hydro reports,Mcross,wv(3200) has a 10 inch snow cover While canaan & snowshoe both have a 9 inch snow cover.SS is at 4800' & Canaan is at 3280'.There is no report for pickins & Kumbrabow for today,But if I remember right,Pickins had a 9" & Kumbrabow had a 13" report for yesterday.Snowshoe used to have the reputation as being snowier than the Valley, but the last 4 years of data prove otherwise.They are about neck & neck this year but for the last 3 years they have been slacking.
Roger Z
January 29, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Yes, Andy, I think you're onto something about Kumbrabow State Forest. Other areas that have no measuring stations that would be great to see: Pharis Knob/Sinks of Gandy, Shavers Fork about 5-10 miles north of Snowshoe, Roaring Plains. These are all- by southern standards- brutally cold and northerly locations.

Interesting data found at the southeast weather page. Here's Pickens records:

http://cirrus.dnr.state.sc.us/cgi-bin/sercc/cliMAIN.pl?wv6991

Remember from the MM discussion the other day the argument about how much snow is typically on the ground in CV? Well, even though Pickens averages 160 inches of snow per year, their average monthly cover in Jan and Feb is only 5 inches, which is about 30% lower than CV. The Pickens data only goes through 1986 though. I wonder how the snowfall average might be impacted with data from 1987 on.

Well, there's always Terra Alta to help us out:

http://cirrus.dnr.state.sc.us/cgi-bin/sercc/cliMAIN.pl?wv8777

What I couldn't believe about Terra Alta is that they average 150 inches of snow per year! Again, though, they have less on the ground than Canaan Valley does, on average. That's curious, because if you look at the temperature readings, Terra Alta is actually a touch cooler than CV (this is according to the data on that web page).

Finally, here's Snowshoe:

http://cirrus.dnr.state.sc.us/cgi-bin/sercc/cliMAIN.pl?wv8308

Same snowfall average as Pickens but deeper coverage than CV, and also the only place I've seen south of north central PA that has average highs below freezing any month of the year (29 in January). HOWEVER (here comes a tribute to Andy)... we all know: 1) Snowshoe records its temperatures at its summit, not its base like the rest of the locations; 2) Mount Porte Crayon sits less than 100 feet lower and 40 miles further north than Snowshoe. So I'd conclude that a conservative estimate of snow on the Roaring Plains and MPC's summit (as well as temperatures and snow depth) is comparable to the Snowshoe readings. Given its more northerly location, it might even even be 10 or 20 inches higher. I'm basing this on the Terra Alta/CV comparison- it's about 30 miles further north but 700 feet lower, and has almost identical weather.
fishnski
January 29, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
We can always count on you to bring out the FACTS Roger...Thats good! Better than blowing it out of our @$#*% as you put it! Terra alta gets the 1st sample of the west to east moisture & then throws the leftovers to Wisp & deep ck lake.Just as Pharis would do to Spruce Knob..I would think. I would love to know exactly what the base of cup run(3250 same as the valley) averages before I can conclude that Canaan & surrounding Mtns are def snowier.What is the ave ratio of snow at 3200' verses snow at say 4500'. Is the increased snow at the top of the Mtn's due to a higher moisture or just the fact that it is colder up there & the snow is fluffier? I remember 1 time at TL there was 5 inches at the top verses 2 at the bottom. I'm sure that was not a normal event but I'm thinking the ave ratio would be more like 4" at the bottom & 5" at the top...If my math is correct that would be 150" at 3200' & 180" at 4200'...SOOOOO in conclusion MPC at 4770 would recieve.....200 inches a year!!! Its oficial ...200 inches a year!!! ....Just a side note, having built a home within sight of the summit of MPC,I have had the pleasure of watching the clouds build over the summit,the snow begin to fall up there,& then watching the snow fill in & push BACK(west) to my place. Now that is a real Mtn!
fishnski
January 29, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
1 more thing...SS is reporting 97 inches of snow for the year with 15"'s in the last storm.They also are reporting a 6 inch snowcover all this at 4800'. Whitegrass at 3200' is reporting 98" so far this year with 18"'s from the latest storm & they are reporting that they have 12 "'s at the 4000' stake....Now Roger you were questioning the accuracy of the stake during an earlier post but if you follow the Whitegrass website they will actually take a photo of the stake & sometimes it turns out more than they have reported. They are honest about the stake...Allthough we just don't know exactly where they put the stake....could be strategicly planted..if you know what i mean! Or it may be in an area where it really does honestly tell the story up there....Has Anybody out there actually seen the stake in person...Denis?
Roger Z
January 29, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Hey Andy just to be clear I didn't mean to imply that Whitegrass was lying about the depth. The accuracy I was questioning was the methodology for measuring snow that the DNR or NWS would use versus Whitegrass- it could lead to two different numbers measuring the same thing. That said, it is interesting to know that SS is about the same total snowfall as Whitegrass right now. Though, as you pointed out, CV seems to have been getting more snow the last few years. It's probably due to global warming.
Murphy
January 30, 2006
Member since 09/13/2004 🔗
618 posts
Quote:

So, I've often wondered where THE snowiest part of WV is. Canaan Valley seems (depending on the source) to average 150-180" per year. I guess it depends on elevation. I'm sure Canaan Heights (along SR-32 between CV & Davis) gets more than the valley floor. Just as the folks at the top of Old Timberline would get more than me (Beaver Ridge/Northpoint).

Snowshoe says they average 180". But the very cold & snowy area around the shoe is a pretty small radius than Canaan. I wonder, are there any colder and snowier parts in the state besides Canaan & Snowshoe? Rumor has it that there are even mountains in NC that receive some kind of snow 12 months per year (don't know how true that is, though).

Also, I find it fascinating that the town of Petersburg, WV (only 20 statute miles from Canaan) averages only 16 in. of snow per year (even less snow & rain than Baltimore!!). What a difference a few miles makes.




Anybody know how much snow some of the mountains of western Greenbriar county get? Several are over 4000' feet and I heard reports of over 18" of snow from this last storm, more than Canaan or Snowshoe. Of course terraserver shows the whole area as one giant strip mine.
fishnski
January 31, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Maybe more like northern greenbriar,just east of Richwood & tucked next to Pocohontas Co..It's snow country for sure..don't know the stats.....Heres some stats to close out JAN....92/137(base/summit) 2000 vert Mad river glen,VT ...93/141 2100 vert Wildcat,NH.....98/125?? 1200 vert Whitegrass,WV.....There was a 45/48/27 inch increase from all the bases to the summits I got Whitegrass's 27 inch increase to their summit at 4500' Wiess Knob by.....Well do the math...Goodnite!
energy177
February 1, 2006
Member since 12/1/2004 🔗
19 posts
Quote:

Quote:

the HIGHEST plateau east of the rocky's ...




It's not clear how you're defining plateau, but by most measures, the Roaring Plains, while a spectacular part of the WV highlands, are not that high by eastern standards. Large, relatively flat areas around Mt. Rogers are all well above 5300' with the high point of 5729 being 1000' higher than Porte Crayon. Many areas of the Black Mountains in NC are considerably higher yet, with 41 peaks in the NC/TN area above 6000'. The highest, of course, is Mt.Mitchell at 6684, over two thousand feet higher than the Roaring Plains. And then there are the high peaks of the Adirondaks and the Whites in NH. Some of these may not get as much snow as the ridges in WV, but let's keep the hyperbole under control. btw, if you want deep snow, you don't need to go high at all - just go to the Tug Hill Plateau near Watertown NY. At the unremarkable elevation of 1700' it is one of the snowest locations in the east with an average well in excess of 200" per year. THE snowiest may be Mt. Washington, NH which averages 256 according to the Mt. Washington Observatory. No wonder Tuckerman's get's so deep




Mt washington isn't even close the snowiest place in the east. check out jay peak, vermont. they average somewhere around 400 inches a year and have had seasons with over 500 inches. Even the peak above stowe (mt. mansfield, highest peak in vt) averages over 280 inches. mt washington just isn't in that great of a location to get dumped on even though they get the worst weather of any place in the east.

tuckermans gets so deep because all the snow from mt washington blows off into the ravine.
Chad
February 1, 2006
Member since 12/12/2000 🔗
270 posts
fwiw, i came across this snowfall map somewhere awhile back...

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