Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

MIKE WATSON: Snow-Go once again... Historic snow days from 11 February 2014

In this column, from just over 1 year ago, Mike Watson sets the record straight on real location, attributed to Columbia, of the record cold day in 1963. It's been extremely cold here many times before. Cold Snap of 1886 brought week long temperatures 24 degrees below zero, in Lincoln and Rockcastle Counties, and it was likely that cold here in Adair
Click on headline for complete column

By Mike Watson
Adair County Historian

The weather outside is frightful one more time, and there may well be more in the offing. We in Kentucky have had plenty of snow and ice for one winter. Not a record, but cabin fever and the like seem to have overtaken so many residents that open rebellion is in the mind of many. Last evening, Sunday, in the space of twenty minutes roads and walks went from clear, or relatively clear, to white. By morning two and one-half inches covered our surfaces.

I had fought the notion of a short historical sketch on past snowfalls, but here are a few weather notes assembled from near-forty years of research into Adair County's past:

The first week of January 1886 brought a very cold snap, with temperatures in the region dropping well below zero. Stanford, in Lincoln County, officially recorded a week-long low of 24 below zero. Rockcastle County registered 28 below. Adair County was likely in the same temperature range.

February 1886 came in with a big, white bang. All across Kentucky, Adair County included, and from Maine to Texas, a heavy snow began and for two days and one night the fall was considerable, with several days of light snow to follow. The totals for Adair, as far as existing information reveals, were from 18 to 23 inches of light, fluffy snow, with little wind to create drifts. The temperatures reported across the region spanned from 11 to 18 degrees at first, but dipped dramatically in the days that followed, preventing melting. At the height--or depth--of the February cold, 29 degrees below zero was recorded at Roundstone, in Rockcastle County, which may be taken as a indicator of the low temps in the whole region.

Across the state the snowfall was much the same. From existing news accounts, older residents had never seen a deeper snow, except in the latter part of 1862, when 20 to 24 inches fell in parts of east central Kentucky.

Incidentally, most in this area heated and cooked with wood, which they generally cut themselves. However, the purchase price for a rick of wood was between 50 and 75 cents, and for those who did use coal, the price was 13 cents per bushel.

Early February 1907 saw eight to twelve inches all over Adair and Russell Counties. January 1917 brought eight to ten inches over much of Adair County.

January 30th, 1963 was the national weather day for Adair County. National news programs reported the low temperature, a record so far as official statistics could reveal, of 30 degrees below zero at "Columbia" Kentucky. Actually this temperature was recorded near Breeding, but as is the way with state and national reporting at the time, the closest "town" was cited as the point of note.

During this same time, though I do not have the date, but winter of '62-'63, there was one big snow with considerable drifting. I often heard our dad, Carl Watson, speak of the drifted snow being even with the tops of fence posts on our farm out 704 on Earls' Ridge, between Old Concord Methodist-Walnut Grove School neighborhood and Inroad.

I'll not even mention the white plague of 1994.

Keep warm and shake the snow from your feet. MW

This story was posted on 2015-02-16 13:04:26
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.