U.S. 24-hour State and City Snowfall Records

By: Christopher C. Burt , 10:02 PM GMT on December 20, 2016

U.S. 24-hour State and City Snowfall Records

Winter has descended with a vengeance for much of the nation this December. Although heavy snow has fallen in many areas no all-time snow records have yet been set so far with the exception of Binghamton, New York where a new single-storm snowfall record of 27.6” occurred on November 19-22. However, the city’s 24-hour snowfall record of 23.0” on February 2-3, 1961 was not matched. Here is a brief summary of the greatest 24-hour snowfall records set in each state and at a selection of 70 or so major sites in the U.S.

There is, of course, a difference between calendar day precipitation records and 24-hour precipitation records. Extreme precipitation events (whether rain or snow) do not normally confine themselves to the convenient time frame of a single calendar day. Therefore, in order to show the true magnitude of a heavy precipitation event it is necessary to look at a single 24-hour period even though it may span across two calendar days. Many NWS sites in the U.S. keep track of their 24-hour vs. calendar day precipitation records but just as many do not. In the latter cases it takes some research to figure out just how much snow or rain accumulated over the course of a 24-hour period. I’ve done my best, as illustrated in the tables below, to accomplish this so far as record 24-hour snowfalls are concerned.

What is the Greatest 24-hour Snowfall on record for the U.S.?

There are two contenders for this title. The most commonly accepted figure is the 75.8” of snow that fell in 24 hours at Silver Lake, Colorado on April 14-15, 1921. The other option is a 78.0” total measured at Mile 47 Camp, Alaska on February 7, 1963. The Silver Lake record is what the NCEC (National Climate Extremes Committee) accepts as the official national record despite the SCEC (State Climate Extremes Committee) claiming the Mile 47 Camp figure as the official record for Alaska. The contradiction between these two official NOAA bodies is not clearly understood. In November 2014, Alaskan climatologist Brian Brettschneider researched and penned a guest blog for me on the subject. The conclusions were, well, not conclusive. Here is the entire blog (unfortunately without its images which the WU server no longer supports) for those who would like to know more about the Mile 47 Camp event.

The 75.8” Silver Lake, Colorado event is less controversial. The storm total was 95.0” over 32½ hours and another location in the area, Fry’s Ranch, measured 62” in just 22 hours.



Storm precipitation (melted—inches) total for the Silver Lake event of April 14-15, 1921. Silver Lake (elevation 10,220’) received 6.40” of melted precipitation (95” of snow) during the storm and Fry’s Ranch (elevation 7,500’) 7.65” and a snowfall total of 62”. Map from ‘Monthly Weather Review’, Feb. 1953, p. 39. The entire MWR article about the Silver Lake event can be found here..

There is actually a third contender for the title of greatest U.S. snowfall in 24-hours on record although it has been officially disqualified by the NCEC as a result of a technicality (one too many measurements were made by the observer over the course of 24 hours). The NWS COOP snow spotter in Montague Township, New York (in the Tug Hill Plateau region east of Lake Ontario) measured 77.0” of snowfall in a single 24-hour period on January 11-12, 1997.



This photograph was taken during the remarkable snowstorm at Montague Township, New York in January 1997, when an unofficial 77” of snow accumulated in just 24 hours. Photograph courtesy of Cheryl Boughton).

The storm total at Montague for the entire storm, which lasted (on and off) for five days was 90.5”. The NCEC special report and evaluation of this event can be found here. Thomas Niziol, The Weather Channel’s winter weather expert, is cited in this report in his capacity as the lead forecaster at the NWS-Buffalo office where he was employed at the time.

There have, of course, been other anecdotal reports of even greater snowfalls than those cited above, including an 84” snowfall in 24 hours reported by the California Highway Patrol Depart at Crestview during the famous Sierra blizzard of January 14-15, 1952.

City and State 24-hour Snowfall Records

In the tables below I have attempted to compile the greatest 24-hour snowfalls by state and by city (a selection of 70 or so significant cities and sites across the country). The data is derived from various sources: NOAA’s NCEI Snowfall Extremes web site, NOAA’s SCEC State Climate Extremes web site, various NWS individual regional web sites, and research I have done myself. In my own research I have found some errors imbedded in the data on the above-mentioned NOAA web sites. The Snowfall Extremes data has not been quality controlled as some simple investigations can make obvious. The State Climate Extreme’s data has some other errors and omissions. However, the ‘official’ records for each state’s 24-hour snowfalls are contained in that list.

In the tables below, the figures are in inches and tenths of inches. BTW, don’t ask me how anyone can accurately measure snow depth to the tenth of an inch since many if not most individual snowflakes have a diameter greater than a tenth of an inch.



For the cities listed below I have not included snowstorms prior to the beginning of their official POR’s (periods of record). Cincinnati, Ohio, for instance, had a reliably measured 20.0” of snow in 24 hours on January 14-15, 1863. The modern figure I show in the table below may be for period of time a bit more than 24 hours. I have not been able to confirm just how much of this 18.5” fell in a single 24-hour period on February 4-5, 1998.



KUDOS: Thanks, once again, to Mark Stroud at Moon Street Cartography for producing the tables above.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 24 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

24. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:09 AM GMT on February 25, 2017
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
23. WU-110842
5:20 AM GMT on February 20, 2017
in 1911 Alpine County, Ca had approx 81 inches of snow on the ground. Do you have any information regarding thiis?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
21. ChateauChalon
9:05 PM GMT on January 16, 2017
You are welcome!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
20. BaltimoreBrian
8:22 PM GMT on January 14, 2017
Thank you ChateauChalon--you were very helpful.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
19. ChateauChalon
12:24 AM GMT on January 14, 2017
For Mr. Burt--what is Istanbul's heaviest snow on record? How is an event like this recorded--several different events of heavy snow within a 5-day period?


Maybe I can answer that question:
Perhaps, one of the most impressive snow storms in Istanbul was the one from March 4 - 6 in 1987. This and subsequent snowfalls resulted in a snow depth of 80 cm in Bahçeköy on March 9, a suburb of Istanbul.
Source: "İstanbul Bölge Müdürlüğü'ne Bağlı İstasyonlarda Ölçülen Ekstrem Değerler" or in english: [Extreme Values Measured in Istanbul Regional Directorate], unfortunately, I was not able to find the
PDF-Document anymore.

And according to Tayanç et al. (1998) the snow depth reached one meter in the Istanbul area.
In relation to this event, the still standing record snow height of 44 cm was recorded in downtown Istanbul at the Göztepe station and about 20 cm fell on March 4.

After the event of February 5 - 10 in 2005, a snow height of 50 cm was recorded.

On February 2015, a snow height of 75 cm was recorded in the suburbs of Istanbul.

P.S.: Such snow amounts are partially the result of a lake effect, since cold air from western Russia blows over the relatively warm (and ice free) Black Sea.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
18. BaltimoreBrian
11:06 PM GMT on January 12, 2017
Snow Acts as a Magical Balm in an Anxious Turkey Many beautiful photographs inside. Snow fell in different events from January 6-10. The heaviest in Istanbul since 2009. The New York Times article says over a foot--a different article from a British news site said 46" (117 cm). That seems awfully high--46 cm (18") seems more reasonable, but I don't know. There was one roof collapse that was fatal--with 46" of snow I'd expect to see a lot of roof collapses in a metropolis that doesn't get heavy snow often.

For Mr. Burt--what is Istanbul's heaviest snow on record? How is an event like this recorded--several different events of heavy snow within a 5-day period?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
17. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
2:10 PM GMT on January 11, 2017
Of course, there are thousands of sites in Alaska and the contiguous U.S. with far greater 24-hour snowfall records. I only used sites that were 'significant' cities and, more importantly, had long POR's. As I mentioned in the blog, Anchorage was not included because the NOW data only goes back to 1951. Thus Fairbanks made the cut with its long POR. It IS a very selective list of sites that attempted to capture all regions of the U.S. in an geographically equal manner. (yeah, I should have at least included Juneau!). This blog format precludes lists of hundreds of locations (although I have such in my database).

Quoting 14. Greenface:

Funny not one Alaskan city or town on those cities list. Yet I have seen snow fall in several cities here just for 24 hours exceed those of many of the cities listed. Sure bad data gathering in my opinion. Typical of so many reports if it not CONUS it doesn't count.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
16. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
2:02 PM GMT on January 11, 2017
Heavy snow on the highest peaks of the Big Island and Maui are not unusual. Accumulating snow has fallen even in July. In fact a big snowstorm occurred in December, and Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea had "several feet" anecdotally, or at least drifts to that affect. Unfortunately, snowfall is never actually 'officially' measured at these sites in Hawaii. Hence, the "NA" for the state.

.
Quoting 12. ttilley:

Hawaii is listed as "N/A", but indeed has snow, on the summits of both Mauna Loa and, moreso, Mauna Kea. This page, from NOAA, gives 6.5 in. on Maui. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
15. BaltimoreBrian
12:31 AM GMT on January 10, 2017
ttilley, that's a good find. I am sure Mr. Burt will appreciate it :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. Greenface
12:05 AM GMT on January 10, 2017
Funny not one Alaskan city or town on those cities list. Yet I have seen snow fall in several cities here just for 24 hours exceed those of many of the cities listed. Sure bad data gathering in my opinion. Typical of so many reports if it not CONUS it doesn't count.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. CircoTribe
11:46 PM GMT on January 09, 2017
Snow is one of my favorites too! I love looking at the forecasts and the present conditions, but I have trouble finding what actually happened! How much snow was there in my local mountains? Or how much rain did we get with that last storm?

For instance: this last week I have been watching Coeur d'laine. Their forecast was for one foot of snow for five separate days. So, how much did they really get?

Thank you for my go-to site for weather!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. ttilley
3:42 PM GMT on January 09, 2017
Hawaii is listed as "N/A", but indeed has snow, on the summits of both Mauna Loa and, moreso, Mauna Kea. This page, from NOAA, gives 6.5 in. on Maui. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. W6ACT
9:08 PM GMT on January 08, 2017
wow must be global warming
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. plantmoretrees
6:42 AM GMT on December 28, 2016


I love snow!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
12:45 AM GMT on December 25, 2016
Thanks for your kind comments Jeff!

I would be happy to send you my state records snow records database (which includes 24-hour, single storm, monthly, seasonal, and depth records for each state) if you send me your personal email address. Mine is ccburt@earthlink.net. But move quickly since I am leaving for Asia for two months late on Sunday (Christmas Day and will not be able to send you the tables after I leave).
Merry Christmas,

Chris
Quoting 8. BelmontJeff:

Hi Christopher,

First, thank you for gathering this info. Snow is my favorite weather stat. I previously knew about the link for https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records but I had not ever seen the link for https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/snowfall-ex tremes/ Great data in both of them.

Incidentally, if you keep your own database for this data, I just wanted to provide a minor correction for my home state of Maryland - the location of greatest 24-hour snowfall of 35.5" is Friendsville 4.8 SW (not 48 SW). It is improper in the NCDC/NCEI database, hence it carried over into yours but just thought you'd want to know (otherwise it would be located somewhere near Philippi, West Virginia :-)

Regarding your statement "... don’t ask me how anyone can accurately measure snow depth to the tenth of an inch since many if not most individual snowflakes have a diameter greater than a tenth of an inch.", my guess is that this would more be a result of taking several measurements and averaging them, as is standard for NWS Coop observers. As I now live in the Portland, Oregon area, when I took my end-of-day snowfall observation last week I took 4 snowboard measurements around the backyard and got 2.7", 2.6", 2.8", and 2.6", averaging to 2.7". However, I especially understand what you're saying during extreme snowfalls or blizzard conditions.

Additionally, have you seen recent data for the maximum seasonal snowfall for each state? I remember Weatherwise Magazine publishing these stats back in the 1970's and/or 1980's. Maybe this could be another of your great blogs?

Keep up the great work!

Jeff


Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. BelmontJeff
11:20 PM GMT on December 24, 2016
Hi Christopher,

First, thank you for gathering this info. Snow is my favorite weather stat. I previously knew about the link for https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/scec/records but I had not ever seen the link for https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/snow-and-ice/snowfall-ex tremes/ Great data in both of them.

Incidentally, if you keep your own database for this data, I just wanted to provide a minor correction for my home state of Maryland - the location of greatest 24-hour snowfall of 35.5" is Friendsville 4.8 SW (not 48 SW). It is improper in the NCDC/NCEI database, hence it carried over into yours but just thought you'd want to know (otherwise it would be located somewhere near Philippi, West Virginia :-)

Regarding your statement "... don’t ask me how anyone can accurately measure snow depth to the tenth of an inch since many if not most individual snowflakes have a diameter greater than a tenth of an inch.", my guess is that this would more be a result of taking several measurements and averaging them, as is standard for NWS Coop observers. As I now live in the Portland, Oregon area, when I took my end-of-day snowfall observation last week I took 4 snowboard measurements around the backyard and got 2.7", 2.6", 2.8", and 2.6", averaging to 2.7". However, I especially understand what you're saying during extreme snowfalls or blizzard conditions.

Additionally, have you seen recent data for the maximum seasonal snowfall for each state? I remember Weatherwise Magazine publishing these stats back in the 1970's and/or 1980's. Maybe this could be another of your great blogs?

Keep up the great work!

Jeff

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. rlk
12:35 AM GMT on December 23, 2016
BOS was, somewhat unusually, the jackpot for that storm. Usually the maximum accumulation is either inland or on the north and south shores, and Logan is a bit less than the surrounding sites, but not with that storm; the airport maxed out.

IIRC the people at KBOX were a bit skeptical of that record; if I remember correctly, one of the AFD's shortly after the storm contained a somewhat pointed remark.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
7:11 PM GMT on December 22, 2016
Thanks for the Boston correction and the Milford vs Milton clarification. Indeed, in my database, I have the storm total of 27.5" on Feb 17-18 as the city's greatest single snowstorm but (mistakenly) thought the total accumulated for longer than any single 24-hour period. I stand corrected!

Quoting 5. rlk:



That link was broken (and I subscribe to the Globe).

It would appear that it was not Milton. Great Blue Hill, which is located in Milton and has a long period of record at the Blue Hill Observatory. BHO had 30.0" in 1997: http://bluehill.org/observatory/2015/01/blizzard-o f-2015-impacting-observatory/

(I'm actually a bit surprised -- BHO is around 580', so could have had some orographic enhancement in addition to being a few degrees colder than the airport, which in a marginal temperature situation could make a big difference.)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. rlk
11:44 PM GMT on December 21, 2016
Quoting 4. ralphbecker:

According to this article, It was Milford, MA, not Milton, MA that received 36" of snow in the 1997 "April Fool's Day" blizzard.


That link was broken (and I subscribe to the Globe).

It would appear that it was not Milton. Great Blue Hill, which is located in Milton and has a long period of record at the Blue Hill Observatory. BHO had 30.0" in 1997: http://bluehill.org/observatory/2015/01/blizzard-o f-2015-impacting-observatory/

(I'm actually a bit surprised -- BHO is around 580', so could have had some orographic enhancement in addition to being a few degrees colder than the airport, which in a marginal temperature situation could make a big difference.)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. ralphbecker
8:44 PM GMT on December 21, 2016
According to this article, It was Milford, MA, not Milton, MA that received 36" of snow in the 1997 "April Fool's Day" blizzard.

(Edited for new link)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. rlk
8:36 PM GMT on December 21, 2016
Please double check the record for Boston -- per the METARs here, the storm on Feb. 17-18 2003 started between 10:00 and 10:19 AM on the 17th and ended between 6:30 and 7 AM on the 18th, and was 27.5" (officially the largest snowstorm on record for Boston).
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. Astrometeor
1:11 AM GMT on December 21, 2016
Quoting 1. weatherhistorian:

Sorry we're having trouble loading the images! Please stand by.


I can see them now, thanks Chris!

Surprised to see my hometown of Nashville beats out Indianapolis. Woo. If only I was growing up when that 17" happened.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. Christopher C. Burt , Weather Historian
12:29 AM GMT on December 21, 2016
Sorry we're having trouble loading the images! Please stand by.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 24 - 1

Page: 1 — Blog Index

Top of Page

Weather Extremes

About weatherhistorian

Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.