Some Local Weather Facts

Weather is made up of extremes, averages, and of course, great variability.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at some local extremes of weather, dating back to 1871, when “official” weather readings began being collected at the weather service office in Wilmington.


            The hottest day was 104 degrees, set on June 27, 1952.  The coldest day was 0 degrees, set on December 25, 1989.  The lowest high temperature recorded was a measly 16 degrees on February 13, 1899 and again on December 30, 1917.  The highest overnight minimum was a balmy 83 degrees, set on August 1, 1999.


            The greatest 24-hour rainfall was 14.84”, set during September 15-16, 1999.  The most rain in a calendar day was 13.38” on September 15, 1999.  The greatest monthly rainfall was also during the month of September 1999, coming in at 23.41”.  I guess hurricane Floyd really busted records.  And that’s not all, unfortunately.


            The driest month was October 1943; only .02” of rain fell that month.


            Wettest year:  1877, with 83.65” of precipitation.  Driest year:  1909, with only 27.68” of precipitation.  By the way, the normal is 57.07”.


            How about snow data?  Here’s something a lot of people don’t realize.  The greatest 24-hour snowfall was not during December 1989, but was during a 24-hour period of February 17-18, 1896.  During this 24-hour period, 12.1” of snow fell.  As a matter of fact, the greatest snowfall in a calendar day was also during that period, February 18, 1896 to be exact.  A total of11.1” of snow fell on that calendar day.


            Ah, here you go.  The greatest snowfall from a single storm was indeed the 15.3”, which fell from December 22-24, 1989.  December 1989 marked the greatest for one month as well, coming in at 15.3”.


            Feel the pressure?  The highest air pressure recorded was 30.91” as recorded on the barometer during January 2, 1899.  That’s extremely high, especially for this far south.  Those readings are usually found mainly in intense cold and dense air masses of the northern latitudes.  The lowest air pressure recorded was 28.33” during hurricane Floyd on September 16, 1999.


            The fastest sustained wind speed was 88 miles per hour during hurricane Helene on September 27, 1958.  The highest recorded wind gust also occurred that day, coming in at 135 miles per hour.