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As If We Didn’t Already Know…

By Staff | Mar 2, 2010

No, it isn’t exactly rocket science.

One look a round the landscape should provide enough data to make an educated guess that this winter is quite possibly one of the snowiest in Iowa History – at least in the Palo Alto County area, that is.

Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker announced late last week that the statewide snowfall average for this winter now stands at 43.1 inches of snow. But, Hillaker also cautions that figure is not official, because local snowfall totals are actually much higher.

“Your area in Northwest Iowa has been the epicenter for storms this winter,” Hillaker said, referring to Palo Alton, Dickinson, Clay, Emmet and Buena Vista Counties, along with portions of Kossuth County.

The snow season started with an Oomph, rather than a bang, when a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day storm dumped 26 inches of snow in the area. Successive snowfalls added more and more of the white stuff until the average snowfall cover in the region stands at close to 60 inches, according to several weather reporters in the region.

Though this winter’s numbers trail the record by nearly 18 inches, the snow season is far from over.

According to the state climatologist, the current average of 43.1 inches is 16th out of 123 years of records, but just less than three inches of additional snowfall would move this year’s total to seventh place, ahead of the winter of 2000-2001.

With the statewide record snowfall mark set at 59 inches back in 1961-62, it would seem pretty tough to beat that mark. But then again, maybe not.

“We would still have to be above normal to beat that year,” Hillaker said. “That still won’t be easy to do, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

Keeping in mind that according to records, over half of the snowfall back in 1961-62 came in the second half of February and early March, noting is impossible, as far as snowfall goes. And, don’t forget the old adages of a snowstorm every year during the Girls State Basketball Tournament, which started Monday, March 1.

The normal snowfall totals of this year might qualify this winter for second place above the 52.6 inches in 1911-1912, according to Hillaker. The third and fourth-place records of 51.4 inches in 1935-1936 and 51 inches in 1959-1960 are close behind, followed up by the fifth place record of 49.3 inches in 1978-79 and as recently as 2007-2008, set the tenth best mark with 45.1 inches.