The Snowstorm of 1980

With many people throwing around the ‘s’ word lately, I thought we should take a look back at one of the biggest snowstorms that eastern North Carolina has ever seen.

It was dubbed the ‘Snowstorm of the Century’ and it happened in early March of 1980.

During the afternoon and evening of March 2, 1980, North Carolina experienced a major winter storm. Heavy snow and blustery conditions combined to reach almost blizzard conditions. The National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm that contains large amounts of snow or blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 MPH and visibility down to less than a quarter of a mile for at least 3 hours.

Widespread snowfall totals of 12-18 inches was seen across most of ENC, but places such as Morehead City and Elizabeth City saw over 20 inches. Unofficial reports even had some areas near 30 inches.

Along with snow, the winds were very strong. Sustained winds were anywhere between 20-40 mph with gusts upwards of 50 MPH. The maximum gust was recorded at Cape Hatteras at 62 MPH. With the heavy snow and high sustained winds some areas saw snow drifts up to 8 ft.

Credit: WRAL-TV

This snowstorm caused over $20 million dollars in property damage and $10 million to the Duplin County poultry industry. There were also 13 storm related deaths; 8 of which were in the Morehead City area.

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