Friday, May 17, 2013

The Record Snows of Mount Shasta, Redux

Regular readers will recall the overhyped and inaccurate predictions of record snowfall (218 inches in four days) on Mount Shasta last winter which we discussed in two posts (Is a US Snowfall Record in Jeopardy and Mt. Shasta Update).  The storm that still holds the record for single-storm accumulation occurred on Mt. Shasta from 13–19 February 1959 (more below).  An article examining this storm (Hansen et al. 2013) is included in the inaugural edition of the Journal of Operational Meteorology, a publication of the National Weather Association.

Unfortunately, the article is payrolled except for National Weather Association members, but if you aren't a member, you can have a looksee at the abstract above and get the gist.

There does, however, seem to be some confusion concerning the record status of the February 1959 Mount Shasta storm.  Hansen et al. (2013) suggest that the 4.8 m (189 inches) of snow that fell on Mt. Shasta was unmatched and unbroken until the early 1990s, citing an web posting by Freeman (2011) for this statement.  Freeman (2011) states that "This storm was credited with producing the most snow in a single storm in North America until the late 1990s when an eastern state beat the record (de Blij and Muller)." I suspect the de Blij and Muller reference is for their book Physical Geography: The Global Environment, which I'll need to get at the library, but suspect there might simply be confusion between point and areal accumulations. I am unaware of any single-storm accumulation at any single location in the east approaching 189 inches, but the total area accumulations in their storms can be very large.  

Weather historian Christopher Burt includes Mt. Shasta as the single-storm record, but notes that a reliable measurement of 194 inches in four days was made at the Norden railway depot in the Sierra Nevada from April 20–23, 1880.

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