By Katie Mosher

Cape Lookout Lighthouse in snow

Cape Lookout Lighthouse in the snow. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

Folks at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center decided that the snowfall in Carteret County in February 2010 was so unusual that it warranted a special exhibit of photos from the community.

To their surprise, while the images have been on view at the Harkers Island museum, there have been several more recent snow experiences up and down the North Carolina coast.

Field Research Facility in Duck, N.C.

Field Research Facility in Duck, N.C.Photo by Kent Hathaway.

A tree made from recycled crab pots.

A tree made from recycled crab pots. Photo by Terri Kirby Hathaway.

The National Climatic Data Center reports that the North Carolina coastal region on average gets one or less snow/sleet event per year. That means some years no snow at all and others just sleet. But in recent months, conditions for snow have been more favorable.

Coastal snow shot of a bird on a bird feeder.

Coastal snow shot of a bird on a bird feeder. Photo by Terri Kirby Hathaway.

Snow covers a building near a pier.

Coastal snow coats this building and pier. Photo by Vanda Lewis.

“The main pattern that brings snowfall to North Carolina is one with the jet stream dipping in a trough across the Mississippi Valley, and surface low pressure crossing north central Florida,” explains Steve Pfaff of the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

“If the trough is amplified enough, it will induce the development of low pressure across the northern Gulf of Mexico. The low will track across north central Florida to off the coast of the southeast United States. The counterclockwise flow around the low will keep cold northerly winds in place across North Carolina, while abundant moisture is circulated into the system — overspreading the cold air in place over the region.”

While icy roads and school make-up days may be frustrations of snow at the coast, the folks at Core Sound still revel in the beauty of the first falling flakes.

The current exhibit runs through March 31 — and they are already gathering images for another show to document the more recent snows.

For more information on current and future exhibits of coastal snow photos, go to In the meantime, enjoy these images shared by North Carolina Sea Grant staff and friends.

Snow covers a wooden walkway and house.

Snow makes any scene a winter wonderland. Photo by Sarah K. Amspacher.


For more information on winter weather at the North Carolina coast, go to and select your location.

This article was published in the Winter 2011 issue of Coastwatch.

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