By Nick Wiltgen
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
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
...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
- 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
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.