Storm inches toward state's 24-hour snowfall record
By Alan J. Keays
Herald Staff | February 15,2007
CASSANDRA HOTALING / RUTLAND HERALD
Jean-Louis Desjardins shovels the sidewalk in front of Desjardins Jewelers during Wednesday’s storm in Rutland.
A Valentine's Day blizzard that slammed into Vermont has shot like an arrow up the state's weather records.
"It's been a number of years since we've had a real monster snowstorm like this that spread as heavy amounts of snow over as broad an area," Chris Bouchard, a meteorologist with The Fairbanks Museum weather center in St. Johnsbury, said Wednesday afternoon.
"Vermont is getting it pretty bad," Bouchard added. "The storm is pretty much plastering all of northern New England and good bit of New York, too, and into Canada as well."
The storm that started early Wednesday morning shattered the all-time record for snowfall on Valentine's Day in Vermont. That record of 7.8 inches of snow was set back on Feb. 14, 2000.
By midafternoon Wednesday, the National Weather Service in Burlington reported more than 13 inches of snow at the Burlington International Airport. Weather Service data dates back to 1883 and measurements for official state records are collected there.
By late Wednesday afternoon, Rutland City had reported 16 inches of snow. Killington Ski Resort reported 21 inches of snow; Pittsford reported 20 inches; Middletown Springs, 18 inches; and Pittsfield, 11 inches.
In southern Vermont, Bethel reported 20 inches of snow; Springfield, 15 inches; White River Junction, 14 inches; and Chester, 12 inches.
Once all the snowfall totals are in, the storm is expected to crack the top 10 all-time winter storms in Vermont, according to John Goff, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington.
"We'll definitely break that top 10 list all-time," Goff said Wednesday afternoon. "To get to 29.8 inches, which is the all-time snowstorm record, I don't think we'll get there. That's pretty tough."
That chart-topping 29.8 inches of snowfall was recorded over a three-day period in a storm in December 1969. Other snow totals earning spots in the elite five storms include 24.7 inches in January 1934, 22.9 inches in March 2001, 22.4 inches in 1993 and 20 inches in November 1900.
However, the storm that started early Wednesday morning could challenge the all-time record for snowfall total in a 24-hour period. That record of 23.1 inches date backs to Jan. 14, 1934.
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, about 13 inches of snowfall was recorded in Burlington, with still another nine hours to go to try to break the 24-hour record.
"It's too early to say if that record will go down, but there is a small possibility," Bouchard said Wednesday afternoon.
The second all-time snowiest 24-hour period was 17.4 inches in Jan. 4, 2003, followed by 16.9 inches on Dec. 25, 1978, and 15.7 inches on March 3, 1994.
The storm also appeared on pace to break the snowiest 24-hour period in February.
That one-day snowfall record had been 16.8 inches recorded on Feb. 4, 1995. Rounding out the top five snowiest one-day periods for the month are 13.1 inches on Feb. 25, 1966, 12.1 inches on Feb. 16, 1958, 11.2 on Feb. 8, 1947 and 11 inches on Feb. 7, 1983.
At the storm's peak Wednesday, snow fell at 2 to 4 inches per hour across the state, producing whiteout conditions and limiting visibility to well less than a quarter-mile, Goff said.
The storm was expected to wind down through this morning, with snow expected to end by early this afternoon, Goff said.
By storm's end, the meteorologist said, snowfall totals across the state could measure between a foot to as much as three feet at higher elevations, such as Jay Peak and Killington.
Goff added that after the snow stops this afternoon, road crews should have a few days to clean up roads and sidewalks. Outside of some snow showers, no major snowfalls are expected through the weekend, Goff said.
Contact Alan J. Keays at firstname.lastname@example.org.