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Record Snowfalls

Recorded at Seeley Lake

(Related story on Snow Plowing Record Snows)

(Weather Table of Daily Measurements for November & December listed below)

by Gary Noland
For the Pathfinder
January 2, 1997

If you think you've seen a lot of snow in the past two months, your "thinking" is right on! Just as the snow has fallen and fallen and fallen, so have Forest Service records that have stood for the past 26 years.

Just over 14 feet of snow has fallen in November and December, making the total for calendar year 1996 a record snowfall year, and only lagging by 55 hundredths of an inch of breaking the record for total precipitation for a calendar year.

Precipitation for the past calendar year has measured 29.14 inches as of 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 30. That compares to 29.69 inches precipitation in the calendar year 1970, but as of this writing we still have another night and day in the year to come up with that .55 inches precipitation to tie or break that record.

Snowfall is another matter. "We've blown the records out," said Kaye Enyeart at the Seeley Lake Ranger Station who has been busy the past few days analysing daily measurements taken by Richard Taylor, and comparing them to past records.

There may have been something in the 1960's before they started keeping snowfall records, but nothing on the books beats this year, especially snowfall in November and December, she said.

November was a surprise for everyone with a record 63.5 inches of snowfall. The previous high November for snowfall was in 1975 with a mere 39.25 inches.

But, that was just a starter. December 1996, with one day left to go, measures in at a whopping 108.8 inches of snowfall. The previous December high was 69.85 inches of snowfall in 1977.

The two months together total 172.3 inches of snowfall-that's 14.36 feet of snow recorded at the Seeley Ranger Station. Right now the Forest Service records indiate the winter of 1971-72 was the heaviest snowfall for a winter season (October through April) with 190.5 inches. That means we only need 18 inches more of snow to break that record, and that seems like a given, since we're just starting into our heaviest snowfall months of January and February.

 November 1996 Snowfall

 December 1996 Snowfall

Measurements in Inches at Seeley Lake Ranger Station
Date Precip. Snowfall On Ground Date Precip. Snowfall On Ground
1-Nov 0 0 0 1-Dec 1.01 5 26
2-Nov 0 0 0 2-Dec 0.42 4 26
3-Nov 0 0 0 3-Dec 0.16 2.1 26
4-Nov 0 0 0 4-Dec 0.02 1 24
5-Nov 0.04 0.6 1 5-Dec 0.11 4 24
6-Nov 0.22 4 4.5 6-Dec 0.18 4 26
7-Nov 0.16 1.8 4 7-Dec 0.09 2 26
8-Nov 0.12 1.6 3 8-Dec 0.2 2.3 25
9-Nov 0 0 3 9-Dec 0.27 1.5 24
10-Nov 0 0 2 10-Dec 0.37 trace 22
11-Nov 0 0 2 11-Dec 0.01 trace 22
12-Nov 0 0 1 12-Dec 0.13 2.5 23
13-Nov 0.13 2 2 13-Dec 0.5 8 30
14-Nov 0.02 trace 1 14-Dec 0.03 0.5 30
15-Nov 0.54 5 5 15-Dec 0.01 0.2 30
16-Nov trace trace 4 16-Dec 0.1 1.5 29
17-Nov 0.1 2 5 17-Dec 0 0 28
18-Nov 0.46 8 12 18-Dec 0.01 0.2 28
19-Nov 0.53 9 18 19-Dec 0.11 1.8 28
20-Nov 0.2 2 19 20-Dec 0.26 9 33
21-Nov 0.08 0.5 20 21-Dec 0.22 7 36
22-Nov trace trace 19 22-Dec 0.01 0.5 35
23-Nov 0 0 18 23-Dec 0.27 7 38
24-Nov 0.2 4 20 24-Dec 0.31 8 40
25-Nov 0.4 8 24 25-Dec 0.02 0.5 38
26-Nov 0.1 2.5 22 26-Dec 0.62 16 42
27-Nov 0.36 7 26 27-Dec 0.39 10 48
28-Nov 0.1 2 27 28-Dec 0.01 0.2 48
29-Nov 0.07 1.5 27 29-Dec 0.9 10 48
30-Nov 0.1 2 26 Precip. Snowfall On Ground
TOTALS 3.93 63.5 26 TOTALS 6.74 108.8 48

(Related story on Snow Plowing Record Snows)