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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Patrick G. Duffeler
Founder & Chairman
Photo credits: Francoise and Patrick II