All Weather News

A Look Into Next Month’s (October, 2008) Snowfall Through Last Year’s (October, 2007) Statistics.

23 Sep 2008, 5:05 pm

Since I have begun to notice snowfall on our HAMrad II Precipitation Type Radar, I find myself increasingly excited at the prospect of snow, yet dreading the cold that accompanies it! Surprisingly, earlier this year when a strong cold polar air mass plummeted south from Canada while Hurricane Gustav was approaching the Gulf Coast, we also had snow in the higher elevations of the northern Rockies in August!

Thus in anticipation of the coming snow season, I have decided to examine some historical snow patterns, and share with you, over time, some observations. It should be noted at this point that a long standing historical problem with snowfall observations, and all weather observations in general, is the disperse nature of data collection. Unfortunately current technology does not allow scientists the possibility to observe and record data for every area of the world, even in the United States with our advanced observation systems compared to other nations. Since October is rapidly approaching, we will begin with an overview of what happened last October.

Some general observations for the month of October, 2007, of the 2,177 reporting stations archived by the NCDC.

  • a total of 956.40 inches (or 79.7 feet) of accumulated snowfall was reported from all observing stations.
  • 21 of the total stations reported an accumulated snowfall for the month of 10 inches or more.
  • Of the top 21 stations, only two were at elevations of less than 500 feet
    1. Galena, Alaska located ( current forecast | location map) at an elevation of 120 feet, with a reported total of 19.50 inches for the month
    2. McGrath, Alaska located ( current forecast | location map ) at an elevation of 333 feet, with a reported total of 12.3 inches of snow for the month
  • Again, of the remaining 19 stations above 10 inches or more reported snowfall, all were at elevations of 500feet or above.
  • Of the 21 reporting stations with monthly accumulations above 10 inches, the total stations by state are
    1. Colorado, with 8 stations over 10 inches
    2. Alaska, with 5 stations
    3. Wyoming, with 3 stations
    4. Montana, with 2 stations
    5. Utah, with one station (Also the #1 total for the month, with 59.20 inches (Alta))
    6. Oregon, with 1 station
    7. Washington, with 1 station

Below is a table of the top 21 stations for your viewing pleasure, sorted in descending order, that includes the total snowfall for each location for the month, the geographic coordinates for the reporting station (latitude, longitude), the city and state of the reporting station, and reported elevation. A graphic version of the table is also available if you wish to link to or view.

40.59 -111.64 UT ALTA (forecast) 8730 59.2
42.90 -122.13 OR CRATER LAKE NPS HQ (forecast) 6475 31.5
39.37 -106.19 CO CLIMAX (forecast 1294 23.9
46.79 -121.74 WA RAINIER PARADISE RS 5427 22.0
64.73 -156.93 AK GALENA AP (forecast) 120 19.5
40.51 -106.01 CO GOULD 4SE SFSP 9000 19.0
44.15 -111.05 WY BECHLER RVR RS 6428 18.1
39.87 -105.76 CO WINTER PARK (forecast) 9108 18.0
45.24 -109.73 MT MYSTIC LAKE (forecast) 6544 15.5
39.49 -106.04 CO BRECKENRIDGE (forecast) 9580 15.0
43.42 -110.15 WY DARWIN RCH 8160 14.5
66.92 -151.51 AK BETTLES AP 642 13.1
44.77 -107.52 WY BURGESS JUNCTION 8060 13.0
45.28 -111.32 MT BIG SKY 2WNW (forecast) 6590 12.3
62.96 -155.61 AK MCGRATH AP (foreast) 333 12.3
39.63 -106.04 CO DILLON 1 E 9065 12.0
64.86 -147.84 AK COLLEGE OBSY 621 11.4
40.97 -106.00 CO HOHNHOLZ RCH 7760 11.0
65.49 -144.64 AK CIRCLE HOT SPRINGS (foreast) 860 10.7
40.04 -106.20 CO WILLIAMS FORK DAM 7618 10.0
37.32 -104.95 CO AGUILAR 18WSW (forecast) 8644 10.0

Some more thoughts….

Of the 2,177 total reporting stations, a total of 222 reported receiving “some” snowfall for the month of October, 2007. With 171 reporting at least 1 inch or more accumulated snowfall for the month, and the balance being less.

Below are two graphics (click for full size). The first depicts locations within CONUS (Continental United States only) that reported at least some snowfall for the month. As is evident, and discussed above, the vast majority of the stations were in areas of higher elevations, concentrated heavily in the central rockies and the pacific northwest with a smattering of reports in Maine, the upper peninsula of Michigan, and northern Minnesota. Some basic statistics for all stations are:

  • Mean elevation for all stations reporting any snowfall for the month = 5,118 feet
  • Median elevation for all stations reporting any snowfall for the month = 5,566 feet
  • Mean snowfall for all stations reporting any snowfall for the month = 4.31 inches
  • Median snowfall for all stations reporting any snowfall for the month = 2.50 inches

As discussed previously, current technologies severely limit our ability to record any weather variables over all areas of Earth’s surface. However, the second graphic depicts a spatial analysis of the recorded snowfall for the month, based upon both the number of total recorded events, and the values of each of those events recorded. If you are unfamiliar with spatial analysis, you can basically view the map as if you were to place a bet upon where you think snow might occur for this October based upon last October’s statistics, the highlighted areas would give you the best opportunity for success.

A last graphic contains those areas within the state of Alaska that had reporting stations recording at least some snow for the month, and is an excellent example of the previous statement that we simply do not have the ability to record and retrieve data for all of Earth’s surface. For example Alaska is larger than Texas, California, and Montana combined (wiki ref)!



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