Billings crushes previous February snow record by 14.4 inches

2014-02-28T21:16:00Z 2014-03-01T20:48:06Z Billings crushes previous February snow record by 14.4 inchesBy MIKE FERGUSON The Billings Gazette

The 36.8 inches of snow that fell on Billings during the 28 days of February smashed the previous February record, of 22.4 inches, by 14.4 inches. That record was set in 1978.

Melt that 3 feet of snow down, and it works out to 2 inches of February precipitation. That also breaks the all-time record for February, which was 1.77 inches, a mark also set in 1978.

This year is now Billings’ third-snowiest year on record, said Todd Chambers, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Billings office. Eighty-nine inches of snow — more than enough to cover former NBA center Shaquille O’Neal from head to sneaker — have been measured at the airport this winter.

A winter storm warning for heavy snow by the National Weather Service remains in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday for much of southcentral, central and southeastern Montana. Snow accumulation in the Absaroka, Beartooth and Crazy mountains could be 30 inches by Sunday morning, the NWS said.

The Livingston, Big Timber and Melville areas could see eight inches to 14 inches of snow by Sunday morning, while Stillwater, Yellowstone and Big Horn counties and Sheridan, Wyo., could receive from eight to 15 inches of snow.

Chambers said 7.4 inches of snow fell at the airport between 10 p.m. Thursday and 4 p.m. Friday. That total included .46 inches of precipitation.

Rain Thursday night turned to snow at about 10 p.m., said National Weather Service Meteorologist Chauncy Schultz.

The NWS cautioned drivers that travel could be dangerous because of reduced visibility, blowing and drifting snow and snow-packed and icy roads. Travelers are urged to carry food and water in case of an emergency.

No one was hurt when a semitrailer slid off Interstate 90 east of Laurel about 4:30 a.m. Friday, but the truck hit a power pole and landed on its side, said Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Justin Kirchheck.

Butch Larcombe, a spokesman for NorthWestern Energy, said no customers lost power in the wreck, where the truck sheared off a transmission pole.

"When the weather improves, if it ever improves, we're going to replace that pole," Larcombe said.

Earlier Friday another semi jackknifed in the eastbound lane of I-90 at mile marker 401, about 30 miles west of Laurel.

The snow “will keep going” and Billings could see an additional five inches of snow Friday night into Saturday, the NWS said.

The high temperature expected Saturday is 11 degrees below zero. The low will be 20 degrees below zero, the NWS said.

Sunday’s high temperature is expected to be 2 degrees below zero.

After that, a warming trend will settle in. Monday’s high will be 20 degrees, and Tuesday’s will be 34.

But “with two feet of snow on the ground, it will take a little while to get the warm up going,” Chambers said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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