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Snowiest Season on Record for Some U.S. Cities

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:20 PM GMT on April 25, 2014

Snowiest Season on Record for Some U.S. Cities

A late season snowstorm deposited up to 13.5” in northeastern Minnesota (near Gunflint Lake) yesterday April 24th, with 4.3” accumulating at the official NWS site in Duluth. This brings Duluth’s seasonal snowfall total up to 129.6”, 3rd greatest total on record and just shy of the 135.4” measured during the winter of 1995-1996. However, several cities have already broken their seasonal snowfall records. Here’s a brief recap.



Many cities in the Upper Midwest and Northeast ‘broke the bank’ so far as their snow removal budgets were concerned this past winter season. A late-season blizzard pounded Cape Cod on March 26th as this scene from Hyannis illustrates. Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images.

Although the snowfall season of 2013-2014 doesn’t officially end until June 30th, it is unlikely that any additional snowfall will accumulate in any cities east of the Great Plains except, perhaps, in the far northern portions of the Great Lakes and the Northeast.

Duluth, Minnesota is perhaps one of those places that may yet see some additional snowfall. Its normal May snowfall total is 0.4” but, in May 1954, 8.1” fell and a 24-hour-May-snowstorm record of 5.5” occurred on May 10, 1902. With the 4.3” that fell on April 24th (yesterday), the city needs an additional 5.8” to tie its all-time seasonal record of 135.4” set in 1995-1996:

TOP FIVE SNOWIEST WINTER SEASONS IN DULUTH

1. 135.4” 1995-1996
2. 131.8” 1949-1950
3. 129.6” 2013-2014 (as of April 24th)
4. 129.4” 2012-2013
5. 128.2” 1996-1997



Just another snowy winter for the hardy souls of Duluth, Minnesota. Photo by Bob King/The Duluth News-Tribune.

Another city that is likely to see additional snowfall in May is Billings, Montana, which has already experienced its snowiest season on record with 101.4” so far. Their May average snowfall is 2.0” and they once saw 15.0” in a single day on May 11, 1981!

Here is a list of sites that have already experienced their snowiest winter on record (totals are as of April 24th):

Billings, Montana 101.4” (previous record 98.7” 1996-1997)

Detroit, Michigan 94.9” (previous record 93.6” 1880-1881)

Flint, Michigan 83.9” (previous record 82.9” 1974-1975)

Petoskey, Michigan 184.4” (previous record 183.9” 1970-1971)

Toledo, Ohio 86.3” (previous record 74.9” 1977-1978)

Rhinelander, Wisconsin 107.8” (previous record 107.0” 1938-1939)

Spooner, Wisconsin 109.4” (previous record 95.5” 1898-1899)

Jeff Masters reported that Ann Arbor, Michigan (his home town) has already broken its seasonal record with 97.0” (prior record 89.8” in 2007-2008). Of course, Detroit is the most significant site among those listed above, being one of America’s major cities and having a POR (period of record) dating back to 1880. Detroit also broke its record for single-snowiest-month when 39.1” fell this past January, surpassing the previous record for such of 38.4” in February, 1908.

Other major cities that came very close to experiencing their snowiest season, include Chicago with 88.4”, just shy of their all-time record 89.7” set in 1978-1979 (with a POR dating back to 1894) and Indianapolis with 55.4” shy of their record 58.2” in 1981-1982. Fort Wayne, Indiana had its 2nd snowiest season on record with a 74.7” accumulation (the record being 81.2” in 1981-1982). However, Fort Wayne did experience its single-snowiest-month (any month) ever observed with 30.3” this past January, previous record was 29.5” in January 1982.

Meanwhile, in the West it has been a schizophrenic winter season with near record low seasonal snowfall in California, Arizona, southern Oregon, and much of Nevada, while much above normal snowfall has fallen in the central and northern Rocky Mountains. Jackson, Wyoming is being threatened by a slow moving landslide caused, in part, by winter precipitation (mostly snowfall) running 150% of normal.



Map of percent of normal snow water content as of April 23rd in the West. Map from the WRCC.

I’m sure that once all the facts are in (so far as seasonal snowfall totals) we will see additional all-time winter snowfall records for some other sites in the Rocky Mountain States and Upper Midwest.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Snow

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

I live in west-central Wisconsin, and it has definitely been a snowy winter! Although not in the record books, our winter snow fall stands close to 2 feet above normal.
Gosh, don't forget the snowiest city of 100,000 at Erie, PA with 136" this past winter.
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