WeatherWatcher: Snowmagedon? Not likely. Take a look at 1916 and the timeline of last week

Monday, January 23, 2012

I've been reading a lot of media reports lately that have claims that this is the worst snow storm the area has had in over 30 years. Others have been using the term Snowmaggedon or Snowpocalypse. I'm more of a realistic type of person when it comes to my comparison of storms. I also do not use daily totals as a way of comparing snow storms. 

For a single day snow fall, the record is still in 1916 at 21.6 inches of snow over the Seattle metro area. How did these storms impact what is now Shoreline and Lake Forest Park? Well, this is still a topic of research that I am still working on. 

However. on February 1, 1916, after a month of sub freezing temperatures which had Green Lake open for ice skating and Lake Union frozen in a slushy ice mess, a snow storm hit at 5pm. By 5pm the next day, February 2nd, 21.6 inches of new snow had fallen. Many roofs collapsed and a lot of damage was done. Arctic freezes lasting more than a month or two were actually common before the 1950's with most of the winter precipitation falling as snow. 

Snow weighs on branches
Photo by Carl Dinse
In December 1996, we had 23 inches of snow total before it turned to rain with massive snow melt. Even the past two years we've had colder temperatures than we've had so far this winter.

That said, we had between 5-7 inches of snow across the Shoreline and Lake Forest Park area total Thursday evening, January 19th. Early the morning of January 20th some spots received a dusting of new snow before it turned into a rain drizzle. Temperatures warmed above freezing at about 7:30 am. Our lowest temperature last week was 25.0°F, (Tuesday, and Wednesday). This was for us, a very average snow event. Other areas in Western Washington got hit much harder.

Here's the time line of the week's snow events.
  • Saturday January 14th: Snow showers no significant accumulations.
  • Sunday January 15th: Snow showers, but not much in the way of accumulation.
  • Monday January 16th: National Weather Service issued two winter storm watches for our area, one for Monday night-Tuesday, 2nd for Wednesday. More snow showers, little accumulation.
  • Tuesday January 17th: 2 inches of new snow, some neighborhoods got up to 3 inches. Winter weather advisory was issued as a result. Winter storm warning issued for Wednesday.
  • Wednesday January 18th: 2 new inches of snow, then a freezing mist leaving all surfaces, trees coated in ice, the weight caused several power outages throughout the area.
  • Thursday January 19th: 2-3 new inches of snow. This was the day it was supposed to rain and didn't. Turned out to be the biggest snow day of the week, with temperatures hovering around 26°F all day, and moderate snow fall until about 4pm in the afternoon. Snow flurries throughout the rest of the evening. 
    • This brought the total snow accumulation on the ground to 5-7 inches. Some daily melting was occurring during the week as temperatures rose during the day above freezing until Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued an Ice storm warning for the Seattle area, however we received snow, and no freezing rain after all.
  • Friday January 20th: Dusting of snow overnight, temperatures started slowly warming from 25.3°F starting at 1am, breaking the 32.0°F mark at about 7:30 AM. The changeover to rain happened as the warm front started pushing through the area late this morning and this afternoon. Temperatures were in the upper 30's by late afternoon and the melting process began.


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