Grandfather Mountain experienced some snowy and blustery weather this January, recording 15.1 inches of snow and a wind gust of 92.9 mph. Photo by Victoria Darlington | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

2021 is off to a chilly start on Grandfather Mountain.

Weather data recorded at the official National Weather Service reporting station at Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge showed high winds and low wind chills in January.

Grandfather Mountain’s resident elk — Doc, Merle and Watson — admire the snow in their environmental wildlife habitat on Grandfather Mountain. Photo by Chloe Brady | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

The lowest temperature observed was 5.9° Fahrenheit on Jan. 29, while a wind chill of -16.3° was recorded on Jan. 28. January’s highest wind gust was observed on Jan. 20, clocking in at 92.9 mph, while the highest sustained wind speed was 59.8 mph on Jan. 28.

The lowest temperature ever observed in the month of January was -32° on Jan. 21, 1985, which also holds the distinction of being the lowest recorded temperature in Grandfather Mountain’s recorded history.

The warmest day in January 2021 was Jan. 2, which saw a high of 53.4° at the top, about five degrees shy of the mountain’s record January high of 58.51°, recorded Jan. 25, 2017.

As observed at the park’s nature museum, the mountain saw 15.1 inches of snow and 4.29 inches of precipitation in January. Precipitation is measured at this lower elevation, as high winds make it difficult to record accurate snow and precipitation observations at the top.

The snowiest January on record was in 1977, when 55.06 total inches were recorded.


Weather Reporting

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation records and reports data in two different ways:

  • The park maintains an automated weather station at the top of the Mile High Swinging Bridge. The N.C. State Climate Office assists the foundation in calibrating the machines and ensuring overall accuracy of data.
  • Grandfather Mountain has been an active member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Cooperative Observer Program since 1955 by reporting daily temperature, precipitation and weather events from locations near the Mile High Swinging Bridge and the Nature Museum.

For more information on weather at Grandfather Mountain, visit http://bit.ly/gfmweather.