Buried by first big snowfall 2015.02.04

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s National Weather Service observer George Isobar says he’s making a mental note before the next big snowstorm:

If there’s light, fluffy snow combined with a strong wind, don’t bother shoveling until it’s over.

“I shoveled twice on Sunday with the intent of making a lighter load when it all finished,” Isobar said. “That turned out to be nothing but exercise. When I went out Monday morning, the entire walk had filled in with drifted snow—just like it would have been if I had never shoveled in the first place.”

This area's first big snowstorm of the winter closed schools and shut down some businesses when 9.5 inches of snow blanketed the region Sunday.

Isobar said it didn't take him long to get some skepticism over his measurement, because it certainly seemed like a lot more.

"I was a little surprised myself," he said. "I melted down what fell into the precipitation can and saw that it measured 0.78 of an inch. In general, that would equate to about eight inches of snow, depending on how wet the snow is."

Walking across his yard he figured it must be about a foot deep until he stuck in the snow stick around several areas and got the 9.5 average reading.

"It's easy to see how people think we got a lot more snow," he said. "I have drifts two feet deep in my yard, but there are other places where the wind swept it bare of snow."

Isobar said he checked other National Weather Service reports and found similar snow depths: Tecumseh, 9; Adrian, 8; Tipton, 7.5; Manchester, 10; Dundee, 10; and Monroe, 11.

JANUARY—Sunday's storm dumped more snow than what fell during all of January, Isobar said. 

"We never had more than 1.8 inches in any one storm and the total for the month came in 7.8 inches," he said. "Total precipitation was 1.68, about half an inch below average."

A snow depth of four inches stuck around for six days before disappearing to just a trace. There was one inch on the ground when Sunday's snow fell.

Rain fell during the first week of the month and glaze formed on streets and sidewalks three times during January.

There were several unseasonably cold days and the mean temperature for the month came in at 4.8° below average. The low of -6° was measured on the morning of Jan. 6, the first of three below-zero readings. The high temperature of 43° occurred on two days, Jan. 18 and Jan. 20.

FEBRUARY—February generally isn’t the snowiest month in this area, Isobar said, but there have been eight-inch snows twice in the last five years.

“We had 18.6 inches for the month last year,” he said, “but three of the last seven Februaries have come through with more.”

And if it’s a typical February, there will probably be a warm spell or two with temperatures into the upper 50s or even 60s.

That may be, but for now it’s nothing but frigid.