New Year's Eve/Day 1963/1964 Snowstorm

           

New Year's Eve & New Year's Day 1963-1964 Snowstorm

                                               Bobby Boyd
                                                    Meteorologist
                                              National Weather Service
                                              Nashville, Tennessee

                                                             
It's been nearly 50 years since Nashville has accumulated 10 inches of snow
from a single storm. The last time it happened was on New Year's Eve in 1963
and continued into New Year's Day 1964. Nashville measured 10.2 inches of
snowfall while areas across southern Middle Tennessee totaled upwards of
16 inches. this was the largest snowfall in Nashville since 15.0 inches fell on
February 21st 1929.

A cold airmass was already in place when a wave developed on a surface
front in the central Gulf of Mexico on December 30th 1963. The surface
wave quickly developed into a low pressure area and moved northeast
across Florida spreading a wide area of precipitation northward. Snow
fell in Middle Tennessee in the overnight hours of New Year's Eve and
into New Year's Day 1963-64. Some areas of northwest Alabama received
20 inches of snow.

On the afternoon of December 29th 1963 cold arctic air pushed southward
toward the Gulf Coast. Supported by a 1040 mbar high over the northern
Plains and by very strong northerly flow aloft from Canada to Texas, the
cold air plunged across the Gulf of Mexico south of latitude 25 degrees by
midday of December 30th. With an upper-level ridge moving inland on the
West Coast and a large amplitude cold trough over the Mississippi River
Valley, the stage was set for heavy snowfall over the Southern states.

Clues to a developing weather system were evident on the evening of
December 30th, as the 500 mbar height falls over extreme south Texas
accompanied by unusually cold air indicated an intensification of the trough
or the formation of a low center near the Gulf Coast. The 500 mbar trough
sharpened during the night as very cold air began moving over an area
already under
the influence of a noticeable speed divergence pattern
from Lake Charles to Nashville. By evening on December 31st the upper-level
chart showed a well organized cold low centered over southern Mississippi.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/hun/stormsurveys/newyears%201963/12311963_snow.png
Courtesy of WFO Huntsville