Does it snow in North Carolina? This is the first question we asked ourselves when we began planning our winter vacation last year. North Carolina was a place we’d always wanted to visit, and we had holiday time saved up.
But it was also important to us to have a proper wintry Christmas with snow. Given that North Carolina is a southern state, however, we weren’t sure if it would be the right fit.
We wanted to experience all of the southern charm that North Carolina is known for. But we also wanted to frolic in the snow, maybe even build a snowman or ski. Would having fun in the snow in North Carolina be a possibility?
So, does it snow in North Carolina? The answer may surprise you! The following article will give you the answer along with the best things to do in North Carolina in the winter.
Does It Snow in North Carolina?
Your first impulse might be to expect that the “Does it snow in North Carolina?” answer would be a definite “no”. After all, North Carolina is located in the United States’ South. As everyone knows, this part of the country is known for being much warmer and for having blazing hot summers.
But if you visit North Carolina, you’ll soon discover that it’s a state full of a lot of surprises. The one that may surprise you the most is that it does, in fact, snow in North Carolina! In fact, it’s so common there that you can consider it a likely annual occurrence.
Now that isn’t to say that all parts of the state will get the same amount of snow. It’s also likely in most parts of the state that you won’t experience much build-up on the ground. North Carolina gets an average annual snowfall of 5 inches, which relatively isn’t very much at all.
Compare this to a place like New York, which gets around 100 inches a year! But for a Southern state, it is unusual to see how often and regularly it does in fact snow there. Even if the warmer climate often prevents it from sticking much. But, yes, there are even areas where you can ski!
When Does It Snow in North Carolina?
In many parts of the United States, the winter season can last many months. Many areas of the Midwest can see it begin as early as October and run all the way through April. Being located in the South, however, North Carolina’s winter season has a much more limited span.
Generally, winter there begins in December and runs through the end of February. That means that this three month span is when you’re most likely to see snow in North Carolina.
And the chances of snow increase in the middle of that time span. This means that January is when you’re most likely to see the most amount of snow. With that said, December, particularly late December, can get very snowy as well. And in some areas, you may see a bit of snow as early as November.
As previously stated, in much of North Carolina, wintry is relative. Most of the state is not going to deliver classic Winter Wonderland weather. But for the areas that do, those are the months you’re most likely to get it.
Here is the month-by-month breakdown:
Throughout most of North Carolina, December is the real start of winter. Temperatures are relatively cold for North Carolina. The coastal areas will get highs of 52.5F (11.4C), and the mountains lows of 30.2F (-1C). On average, it snows around 3 days each December in North Carolina. It can accumulate up to 2.6 inches.
Annually, January is North Carolina’s coldest month. Highs tend to be 49.9F (9.9C) and lows 28.4F (-2C). With that said, they can get much colder in the mountains, with lows of 20F (-6.7C). Generally, it will snow around 4 days each January, and snow will accumulate to 4.2 inches.
February is generally North Carolina’s last month of full-on winter annually. With that said, sometimes the cold temperatures can continue into early March. They’re still generally warmer than January, however. Highs are 53.7F (12.1C) on the coast, and lows are 30.9F (-0.6C) in the mountains.
There tend to be about 3 days of snow each February, accumulating approximately 2.7 inches.
North Carolina Climate
Unlike a lot of the Southern states, North Carolina actually has a surprisingly variable climate. This is largely due to how widely the topography of the state varies depending on the area.
The majority of the state has a humid subtropical climate. This is why there’s so little snow and it’s so difficult for snow to stick there. It’s caused by the Gulf streams and the Atlantic Ocean, which make temperatures both warmer and milder. This is particularly true for the eastern side of the state.
The Western side of North Carolina is home to mountain ranges, however, including the famous Appalachians. Here, as altitude and elevation get higher, the temperature drops. This part of the state has what is referred to as a subtropical highland climate.
Interestingly, the Appalachians block a lot of the winter storms and low temperatures from the more intense winters of the Midwest. However, again, the altitude does create its own winter conditions.
Where Does It Snow in North Carolina?
As you might have been able to guess, the snow in North Carolina can mostly be found in the western region by the mountains. It can snow anywhere in the state, but on the coast, this usually amounts to very light snow or flurries. And of what does fall, most of it tends not to stick.
In the mountains, however, North Carolina can experience heavy snowfalls. The southern mountains get an annual average of 16 inches of snow. The higher mountains can even get up to 50 inches!
Does It Snow in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Does it snow in North Carolina’s largest city, Charlotte? The answer for this one is technically yes, but not much. On average, Charlotte only receives between 2 and 3 inches of snow annually. Due to the fact that its roads aren’t equipped for snow, however, even a small amount can cause a lot of trouble!
If you are here during a snow, expect potentially major delays and lots of traffic disruption. And be careful on the roads, as they can get very slippery. This is doubly so because there aren’t enough snowplows to go around.
Does It Snow in Raleigh, North Carolina?
Snowfall in Raleigh is even less common than in Charlotte. Their average snow accumulation per year is under 2 inches! With that said, every now and then, a major snowstorm will hit the city. But this won’t be an annual event. Rather only once every now and 10.
In 2010, for example, the city was walloped with 20 inches of snow! But again, don’t expect anything this extreme. And as with Charlotte, even a small amount of snow can cause a lot of damage.
Does It Snow in Asheville, North Carolina?
Asheville is one of the North Carolina towns that can be relied upon for being a Winter Wonderland every year. Situated in the mountains, it is regularly blanketed in snow, making an already charming town sparkle. If you want to visit the perfect Christmas destination in North Carolina, this is it!
Asheville is known for hosting holiday festivals and being a great place to celebrate all sorts of winter fun. There are sleigh rides and twinkly Christmas lights galore!
Does It Snow in Greensboro, North Carolina?
The answer to this one is mostly a simple “no”. It rarely snows in Greensboro. The last significant one was over a decade ago and counting.
North Carolina Ski Resorts
North Carolina doesn’t have as many ski resorts as some of the other more winter-focused states. But it does have a few that are absolutely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the sport!
Sugar Mountain Ski Resort
Sugar Mountain is considered one of, if not the, best of North Carolina’s ski resorts. With the largest skiing area and vertical drop (of 1200 feet!) in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can’t beat it!
Getting around 78 inches of snow annually, it boasts so many great things to do. This includes skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, tubing, and snowshoeing! No matter what each person’s skill level, your whole family will have an absolute blast.
As far as skiing, there are 21 slopes at different levels of difficulty, stretching out over a jawdropping 125 acres. And there are lots of different options for how to enjoy them. They have full day and half-day options, and even twilight and night sessions for real winter magic.
You can also go tubing down 700 feet of dedicated lanes, or ice skate on their massive 10,000 foot rink! Another fun way for you to experience this winter paradise is via a snowshoe tour of the mountain. And even these can range from easy to more difficult, depending on your level.
And there are other hiking opportunities available, and areas where you can drive your vehicle through breathtaking snowy vistas.
You also don’t only have to stay the day. There are numerous rental options, from lovely log cabins to mountaintop condos. And if you want to soak up the winter without the sport, there are more than 25 restaurants and shops to explore!
And around the holidays, they host numerous winter festivals and celebrations, so check their website for the schedule!
Beech Mountain boasts the eastern United States’ highest ski area, at about 5,506 feet for its highest peak. This extremely popular ski resort has 17 ski trails spread over 95 acres, which also features a beautiful terrain park.
It also offers ski trails at all different levels of skill so your whole family can enjoy themselves. They even have options for the youngest kids. Their ski school provides lessons for both beginners and more advanced skiers of various age ranges.
They also have something called the Snowflakes Program, a play area for kids between the ages of 1 and 5. There’s a huge room full of activities, and they provide snacks and drinks. That way, you can ski while your kids have fun as well.
There’s also a fantastic tubing park on the premises, and numerous other entertainment options including ice skating. We highly recommend the 5506’ Skybar, where you can have delicious food and drink at the mountain’s very top!
If you want to drink some refreshing beer with an incredible view, also don’t miss the Beech Mountain Brewing Co. up there as well!
Beech Mountain also has numerous excellent options for accommodation if you want to stay over. There are some beautiful hotels including the Top of the Beech Inn, the Beech Alpen Inn, the White Wolf Lodge, and Four Seasons at Beech.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
Not far outside the previously mentioned Winter Wonderland of Asheville, you’ll find Wolf Ridge Ski Resort. As with the other ski resorts, it boast slopes for all different skiing levels.
But it has even more options for adventures. In addition to skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, you’ll also find hiking, caving, horseback riding, mountain biking, and rafting!
As far as tubing, they have an enormous slope of 350 feet long whose top is 60 feet wide and bottom 100. While it doesn’t have specific lanes, it allows people tubing to link their tubes together for even more of a rush!
They also have a wonderfully cozy lodge. Relax with a hot cocoa and a good book while enjoying the beautiful snowy atmosphere outside the window.
So there you have it! Does it snow in North Carolina. As surprising as it may seem, yes it does! And there are actually some great places to enjoy winter fun in this Southern state. So if you’re looking for a more unusual snowy destination, book your trip there today!