Blizzard of '08 leaves 11 feet of snow in the Sierras

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:12 PM GMT on January 07, 2008

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The blizzard of '08 is over in hard-hit California, Oregon, and Washington, but the storm has left in its wake flooding, downed power lines, and prodigious amounts of snow. In the Sierra Mountains, 4-8 feet of snow were common. At the Kirkwood ski resort near Lake Tahoe, an astounding 11 feet of snow fell in just 72 hours--10 feet of that in only 48 hours.


Figure 1. Cleared tracks on the Southern Pacific Railway at Blue Canyon during the winter of 1917. Some of the heaviest snow in North America occurs in the Sierra Nevada Mountains; 60 to 65 feet of snow is not uncommon in a winter season. In: "Monthly Weather Review," October 1919, p. 698. Image credit: NOAA Photo Library.

The massive Tahoe snows from this storm are not a record, however, however. According to Chris Burt's book Extreme Weather, in April 1880, an incredible storm dropped 16 feet of snow (194 inches) in just four days on Norden, near Donner Summit in the Sierras. This stands as the greatest amount of snow ever recorded from a single storm anywhere in the world. The total snowfall that winter at the Summit station (7,017 feet) was a whopping 783" (over 65 feet). An even greater amount was recorded during the winter of 1951-1952 at Donner Summit--815" (over 67 feet). The Southern Pacific Railroad's flagship, the City of San Francisco, was trapped by an avalanche near Yuba Pass on January 13 during that winter. The train lost power, and food for the 226 passengers nearly ran out by the time rescuers arrived. Another bad storm occurred on January 9-10, 1890, when ten feet of snow fell, blocking the rail line and stranding train passengers for days. One of those trapped was New York newspaper woman Nellie Bly, who was attempting to travel 'round the world in 80 days, besting the heroes of Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. She was forced to detour to the south via the Southern Pacific Railway, and made it back to New York in under 73 days.

Jeff Masters

Pacifica Storm (agrin)
30 foot waves far off the coast caused a little excitement in the town of Pacifica, just south of San Francisco.
Pacifica Storm
Nice hat (mefechter)
The snow just keeps on coming.
Nice hat

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286. NEwxguy
6:26 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
It appears the midwest has calmed down somewhat,but still a lot of action.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
285. NEwxguy
6:05 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
We've hit 60 deg. here,feels so nice
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
284. Cavin Rawlins
5:28 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
283. Cavin Rawlins
4:55 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
i would like something to develop.....right now i'm in a state of tropical depression not only in the ATL but elswhere in the world.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
282. Cavin Rawlins
4:52 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
both Navy and CMC brings the system to STS/TS status, while the GFS is more conservative with STS/TD status.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
281. V26R
4:50 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
456 The way tings are happening latly, wouldn't be at all suprised if
something did spin up
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280. Cavin Rawlins
4:44 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
277. NEwxguy 12:39 PM AST on January 08, 2008
456, models want to develope something out there,but pretty cold waters and lots of shear.


yeah that is true but wind shear is forcast to relax somewhat so it would be interesting to see if something can survive and spin up.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
279. Cavin Rawlins
4:42 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Interestingly, when i looked at the the cumulus cloud motions of the disturbed area between 40W-50W...there seems to be a surface perturbation like a trough or open circulation.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
278. V26R
4:40 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Man NEWX you are right this is a Springtime Map!
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277. NEwxguy
4:39 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
456, models want to develope something out there,but pretty cold waters and lots of shear.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
276. NEwxguy
4:36 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Tornado Warning

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

TORNADO WARNING
ARC075-121-081715-
/O.NEW.KMEG.TO.W.0001.080108T1632Z-080108T1715Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MEMPHIS TN
1032 AM CST TUE JAN 8 2008

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MEMPHIS HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
NORTHERN LAWRENCE COUNTY IN EASTERN ARKANSAS...
RANDOLPH COUNTY IN EASTERN ARKANSAS...

* UNTIL 1115 AM CST

* AT 1032 AM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM PRODUCING A TORNADO 9 MILES WEST OF
STRAWBERRY...OR ABOUT NEAR CAVE CITY...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
LYNN...ANNIEVILLE...RAVENDEN...IMBODEN...BLACK ROCK...RAVENDEN
SPRINGS...PORTIA...DALTON...COLLEGE CITY...POCAHONTAS...ATTICA...
O`KEAN AND MAYNARD.

.IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING
NICKEL SIZE HAIL AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.

Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
275. Cavin Rawlins
4:36 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Good Afternoon,

The Central Subtropics are heating up...we have 2 mid-upper broad circulations out there.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
274. beell
4:28 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
SE AR, NW MS maybe later looks best as a guess
Member Since: September 11, 2007 Posts: 141 Comments: 16114
273. V26R
4:20 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Yep and looks like Southern Mo in for
it again now!

Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
272. NEwxguy
4:12 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
The worst last night appears to be in Missouri

4 W STRAFFORD GREENE MO 3727 9319 *** 1 FATAL *** ONE CONFIRMED FATALITY JUST WEST OF STRAFFORD. (SGF)
0034 2 N PURDY BARRY MO 3685 9392 (SGF)
0045 N STRAFFORD GREENE MO 3727 9312 PERSON TRAPPED IN HOUSE REQUIRING RESCUE. (SGF)
0048 3 N MARSHFIELD WEBSTER MO 3738 9291 *** 1 FATAL, 6 INJ *** 1 FATALITY WITH 6 INJURIES AS A RESULT OF A TORNADO NORTH OF MARSHFIELD ON QUARRY ROAD. (SGF)
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
271. V26R
4:11 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Man these are some pretty high boomers for so early in the morning

Link
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270. vortfix
4:01 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Tornado Reports (in CSV format)
Time Location County State Lat Lon Comments
1440 1 SE APPLETON POPE AR 3541 9285 TREES AND POWER LINES WERE BLOWN DOWN AND THERE WAS STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO HOMES. THERE MAY BE INJURIES. THE DAMAGE WAS IN THE VICINITY OF ARKANSAS HIGHWAY 124 AND SIMBA (LZK)
1442 1 W JERUSALEM CONWAY AR 3540 9283 TREES DOWN AND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE WERE REPORTED IN THE VICINITY OF ARKANSAS HIGHWAY 124 AND CEDAR CREEK ROAD. THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE SAME TORNADO THAT AFFECTED POPE CO (LZK)
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
268. NEwxguy
3:59 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
MIDLAND-BAY-HURON-SAGINAW-TUSCOLA-SANILAC-SHIAWASSEE-GENESEE-
LAPEER-ST. CLAIR-LIVINGSTON-OAKLAND-MACOMB-WASHTENAW-WAYNE-
LENAWEE-MONROE-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...MIDLAND...BAY CITY...BAD AXE...
SAGINAW...CARO...SANDUSKY...OWOSSO...FLINT...LAPEER...
PORT HURON...HOWELL...PONTIAC...WARREN...ANN ARBOR...DETROIT...
ADRIAN...MONROE
1042 AM EST TUE JAN 8 2008

...WIND ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 10 AM EST WEDNESDAY...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DETROIT/PONTIAC HAS ISSUED A WIND
ADVISORY...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 3 AM TO 10 AM EST WEDNESDAY.
THE HIGH WIND WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

WESTERLY WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH WILL DEVELOP LATE TONIGHT BEHIND A
STRONG COLD FRONT AND LAST INTO WEDNESDAY MORNING. WIND GUSTS TO
AROUND 45 MPH ARE ALSO EXPECTED...WITH PERHAPS 50 MPH WIND GUSTS
OVER THE THUMB REGION.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
267. V26R
3:54 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Man from the looks from this Looks as if Arkansas and Lower Missouri are in the zone

Link
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
266. V26R
3:50 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Too bad the Gulf Stream can't get its butt
alittle closer to us, man fising would be great right now
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265. V26R
3:49 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Was just looking at the reporting page you posted last night Taz and its hard
to determine the strength of them
I guess thats why they send out field
observers to determine from the damage
what the catagory they fall into
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264. Tazmanian
3:45 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
now we need to find out how strong they where i think any where from a strong EF 4 to a EF 5
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263. NEwxguy
3:45 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
V2 this a very springlike weather map you see in the country right now
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
262. vortfix
3:43 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
But Vort, didn't yesterdays storms qualify?
normal people aren't expecting a Severe Wx outbreak this time of year, maybe for April on out, But January???


There was an unusual number of tornadoes yesterday and night I agree.
But the SPC had established the severity of the risk early on and got the word out.
Had there been a rash of EF4 and 5's then it would have been a real foul up.
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
261. V26R
3:41 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Vort after reading that link for the risk levels, Yesterday should have qualified as a Moderate to High risk,
yet it never made it out of Slight
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260. NEwxguy
3:38 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
out of the noaa weather center storm prediction page it has all the current warnings
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
259. V26R
3:39 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
But Vort, didn't yesterdays storms qualify?
normal people aren't expecting a Severe Wx outbreak this time of year, maybe for April on out, But January???
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
258. V26R
3:37 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Where is that from NEWX?
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257. NEwxguy
3:36 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

MUCH OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
PARTS OF WESTERN KENTUCKY
PARTS OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI
PARTS OF NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI
PARTS OF WESTERN TENNESSEE

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 835 AM UNTIL
400 PM CST.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
256. vortfix
3:37 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
It has to be really bad for the SPC to even mention a moderate severe area.
Their scale is very strict about the categories.
It's really not based on the number of storms expected but rather the severity.
Here's a page with some explanations and definitions.
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
255. NEwxguy
3:35 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
DISCUSSION...VERY POTENT SHEAR PROFILES IN PLACE FOR TORNADIC
SUPERCELL DEVELOPMENT AS STRONG S/WV TROUGH MOVES TOWARD AREA FROM
SRN PLAINS. CURRENT THUNDERSTORMS WESTERN AR EXPECTED TO INCREASE
IN NUMBER AND INTENSITY ALONG WITH POTENTIAL FOR TORNADOS THRU THE
AFTERNOON AS THEY DEVELOP EWD ACROSS MS RIVER VALLEY.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
254. V26R
3:33 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Its strange because the DPs are up in the upper 50's to the Mid 60's with most of the stations
that I just looked at from NO NEward
all have high amounts of humidity
so the moisture is available and like you said NEWX
looks like theres a trigger so cannot understand why they are holding back
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253. NEwxguy
3:32 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
when you look at radar,you would think it a little more than slight risk.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
252. NEwxguy
3:29 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
And the midwest and ohio valley are in for a wild day,as well the lower mississippi valley.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
251. V26R
3:29 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Still suprised that the SPC is only showing a slight risk. Think they would have bumped it up a notch just to play it safe after yesterdays screw up

Link
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250. vortfix
3:23 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
That's quite a line developing this morning:



Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
248. 7daysnopowerfrancis
3:07 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Alright weather experts,

Is it normal to have the surf temperature in S. FL this time of the year at 79 degrees? I went to the beach on New Year's Eve and did not die when the surf touched my feet.

I don't remember the surf temperature being this warm at this time of the year, but in my defense, I don't really go to the beach now that I am not 16.

Member Since: October 17, 2005 Posts: 1 Comments: 386
247. NEwxguy
3:01 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Those are some dangerous storms moving through arkansas.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
246. vortfix
2:47 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LITTLE ROCK AR 843 AM CST TUE JAN 8 2008 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LITTLE ROCK HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... EXTREME SOUTHWESTERN FAULKNER COUNTY IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS NORTH CENTRAL GARLAND COUNTY IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS EASTERN PERRY COUNTY IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS NORTHWESTERN PULASKI COUNTY IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS NORTHWESTERN SALINE COUNTY IN CENTRAL ARKANSAS * UNTIL 915 AM CST * AT 839 AM CST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR JESSIEVILLE...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 50 MPH. * THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR... WYE MOUNTAIN AROUND 905 AM CST... LAKE MAUMELLE AROUND 910 AM CST... ROLAND AROUND 915 AM CST...
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
245. vortfix
2:41 PM GMT on January 08, 2008



URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 8
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
835 AM CST TUE JAN 8 2008

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

MUCH OF EASTERN AND SOUTHERN ARKANSAS
PARTS OF WESTERN KENTUCKY
PARTS OF SOUTHEAST MISSOURI
PARTS OF NORTHERN MISSISSIPPI
PARTS OF WESTERN TENNESSEE

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 835 AM UNTIL
400 PM CST.

TORNADOES...HAIL TO 2.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 80 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.

THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 90 STATUTE
MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 65 MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF
POPLAR BLUFF MISSOURI TO 10 MILES SOUTHWEST OF EL DORADO
ARKANSAS. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU8).

REMEMBER...A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR
TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.

DISCUSSION...VERY POTENT SHEAR PROFILES IN PLACE FOR TORNADIC
SUPERCELL DEVELOPMENT AS STRONG S/WV TROUGH MOVES TOWARD AREA FROM
SRN PLAINS. CURRENT THUNDERSTORMS WESTERN AR EXPECTED TO INCREASE
IN NUMBER AND INTENSITY ALONG WITH POTENTIAL FOR TORNADOS THRU THE
AFTERNOON AS THEY DEVELOP EWD ACROSS MS RIVER VALLEY.
Member Since: October 29, 2007 Posts: 135 Comments: 46051
244. NEwxguy
2:37 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Hey V2,yeh,kind of looks like they were caught by surprise with such a large area.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
243. V26R
2:16 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Morning NEWX Looks to be another busy day at the SPC if they decide to turn on their computers
They screwed the pooch with yesterdays outbreak

Link
Member Since: July 20, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1762
242. NEwxguy
2:07 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
Good morning,crazy weather out there.Atmosphere doesn't know whether it wants to be spring or winter.
Member Since: September 6, 2007 Posts: 873 Comments: 15551
241. biff4ugo
12:46 PM GMT on January 08, 2008
How anything can survive being burried under 10 - 16 feet of snow is astounding to me. That doesn't include drifts. I guess that is why I live in Florida.
You could be walking along and just dissapear into the stuff. How a fox could hunt in that is beyond me.
Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 113 Comments: 1536
240. sullivanweather
11:53 AM GMT on January 08, 2008
Well, it sure feels like spring out there...

I lost 4" of snowpack yesterday and some all-time January records are under threat this afternoon. There's a very spring-like severe weather outbreak over the Midwest and there's two, ehh, disturbances out in the Atlantic.

Lots of crazy weather going around and by early next week there's a chance for a pretty big snowstorm/nor'easter and a potential arctic outbreak by late next week.

Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
239. Cavin Rawlins
11:40 AM GMT on January 08, 2008
i think we can squeeze out at least one sub depression before June.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
238. Cavin Rawlins
11:36 AM GMT on January 08, 2008
sullivanweather, good morning

yeah ur right...

Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
237. sullivanweather
11:20 AM GMT on January 08, 2008
Good morning, 456

There's also a little low level vortex spinning just NE of Hispaniola.

If this was August all 3 would need to be watched...lol
Member Since: March 8, 2007 Posts: 273 Comments: 12612
236. Cavin Rawlins
11:17 AM GMT on January 08, 2008
Models*

CMC, Navy(NOGAPS) and GFS
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.