A Siberian Snow Blizzard in Williamsburg

Williamsburg enjoys a very peculiar climate.  In 1981, Peggy, my wife, had found this out when we were doing our research before purchasing the Wessex Hundred farm. 

The area is very much impacted by the maritime climate, even though we are some 50 miles from the ocean.  The dominant winds are from the Southwest, coming from the Caribbean, following the Gulf Stream that flows up the East Coast.

The weather pattern tends to change midway between Williamsburg and Richmond, resulting in more snow in Richmond in Winter and more heat in the city in the Summer. Meanwhile, Williamsburg, which is on the Peninsula between the massive and wide York and James Rivers, has a more balanced weather pattern but also more precipitation.

Whereas the last frost in the foothills of the Piedmont can be in late May, or even early June, usually Williamsburg may experience an early Spring in the first quarter of the year with its last frost hovering somewhere around April 10th. 

We just experienced  the coldest spell on the farm since 1983, when we moved to Williamsburg and spent our first Winter in the little house dated 1736, which had not been fully renovated and was uncomfortably cold when the mercury dropped down to the teens.


Top Left: The entrance of Wedmore Place. Top Right: The Gabriel Archer Tavern. Bottom Left: Bitter cold wind blows the snow from the roof of our house. Bottom Right: The yard of our house displays its Christmas look.

This last week, we were surprised by a snow accumulation of some 24″+ in 24 hours. The snow was dry and powdery; and the temperature was way below freezing – at night, it dropped down to the very low teens.


Majestic trees in our forest on the property.

The next two days, January 8th and 9th, we had very bright sunshine on what felt like a Siberian Winter. I worked in the snow and cold wind using the backhoe to plow much of the top layer of snow and finally got back home. It was brutally cold.


Top Left: Our garden shed. The garden is well covered in snow. Top Right: The flats south of the winery. Bottom: The entrance to Wessex Hundred after I plowed it some with the backhoe. (I thought I was virtually freezing.)

The next day, January 10, it was bright and sunny.  Still, the temperature was in the mid-20’s.

This recent cold, with wind blowing from the Canadian Northwest, made Williamsburg look almost Alpine, without the mountains.


Francoise and my house on top of the hill after the blizzard.

Personally, having lived for close to 10 years on the shore of Lake Ontario, I got well used to serious snow falls and long, cold Winters.  However, I prefer a shorter Winter.

Today, January 12th,  it is sunny, the temperature is 72, and the snow is gone.

Enjoy Life,
Patrick G. Duffeler
Founder & Chairman


Photo credits:  Francoise and Patrick II



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