December 3, 2012

Mount Shasta: Is U.S. Snowstorm Record in Jeopardy?





Mount Shasta: Is U.S. Snowstorm Record in Jeopardy?

By Nick Wiltgen

www.weather.com

If anyone lived on the summit of California's Mount Shasta, they'd need a mighty big shovel to dig out of the snowstorm that will bury the mountain in astronomical amounts of snow through the weekend--amounts that could flirt with world records.

The Thursday morning National Weather Service summit forecast for Shasta predicted an incredible 33 to 39 inches of snow--jst for Thursday alone.

(By comparison, Atlanta, Ga., has reported 38.9 inches of snow since March 1, 1989--a period of over 23 years.)

But it gets crazier.

Add in another 37 to 43 inches of snow Thursday night and additional amounts ranging from 21 to 35 inches every 12 hours through Saturday night, plus a light dusting of 11 to 17 inches on Sunday...

...and you get a storm total of 176 inches. On the low end.

Add up the high end of the numbers and you get a forecast maximum of 218 inches of snow in four days.

How would that kind of four-day snow total stack up? Consider these major all-time snowfall records that would be broken with a 200-inch snowfall:

  • According to Weather Underground, the world record for a single snowstorm is 189 inches in six days--guess where? Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in February 1959.
  • The National Climatic Data Center says California's heaviest four-day snowstorm was 145 inches at the Sierra-at-Tahoe Ski Resort near Echo Summit in March-April 1982.
  • The U.S. four-day snow record is 163 inches at Thompson Pass, Alaska, in December 1955.

 If those numbers seem a little too hard to wrap your mind around, consider this:

  • The snowiest season on record in snowy Syracuse, N.Y., only yielded 192.1 inches of snow in 1992-93.
  • If the tallest living player in NBA history, Gheorghe Muresan, were to balance a life-size wax statue of himself on his head, two feet of snow would bury the top of the statue.
  • The minimum clearance for an interstate overpass in rural areas is 16 feet. A 218-inch snow depth would cover the highway up to the bottom of the overpass, with 26 inches of snow on top of that.

Of course, if official records are to be broken, this extreme snow will have to fall at a location where someone can measure it. Today's Mount Shasta Ski Park tops out just above 6,500 feet in elevation, much lower than the old Ski Bowl was in 1959, and with this storm carrying so much warm air, snowfall amounts are likely to drop tremendously by the time you get down to that elevation.

Nobody lives on Mount Shasta's summit, and we hope nobody is foolish enough to climb the 14,179-foot mountain for a few days, so we may never know exactly how much snow this storm ends up dumping. 

For the surrounding terrain, which is nearly 10,000 feet lower than the summit, this will be a massive rain storm with the potential for over a foot of rain.









VOHK
Pioneer Country Travel Council


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