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Storm brings snow total to near-record level for month

Thursday, January 20, 2011

As the snow storm winds down Thursday morning, Jan. 20, the sun emerges, giving the air a glittery effect.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
A quick glance out the window this morning in Marshall reveals a city covered by a significant snowfall for the second time this month.

If the predicted 9 inches of snow actually arrived, the record will be broken with 11 days left in the month.

As of 7 a.m., Marshall had received 7.5 inches of snow, according to KMMO radio, but the amount received from 7 a.m. until the snow stopped shortly after 9:30 a.m. was not immediately available.

According to statistics gathered by the Midwest Regional Climate Center in Champaign, Ill., which includes Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, the record for January snowfall in this area is 14 inches, set 34 years ago in 1977. Including the six inches that dropped on January 10, last night's storm may have brought the local total to 15 inches, one inch ahead of the record.

Snow is temporarily piled at the corners of the Marshall square until streets have been plowed and crews can turn their attention to removing the little mountains downtown.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Average annual snowfall for our area is 12.5 inches, so we are already ahead of an average year. February is the snowiest month in the area, with an average of four inches, but snow has fallen as late as March and April, presenting plenty of opportunity to set new snowfall records. The February record of 15 inches was set in 1993; March records show a total of 12.3 inches in 1949; April 1970 saw a record total of four inches of snow.

On Jan. 21, 1958, 9.8 inches of snow fell locally; the one-day record snowfall of 11 inches was reported Feb. 13, 1978. The seasonal snowfall record belongs to 1948-1949, when 32.2 inches covered the area.

Every Midwesterner will agree that weather here is highly variable, a characteristic of what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls a "continental climate."

January in Saline County is no exception. The average January temperature here is 28.9 degrees; in 1933, the average rose to 42.5 degrees, but in 1940 dropped to 13.3 degrees.

The warmest temperature recorded for January 20 was a near-tropical 69 degrees in 1906; the coldest January 20 occurred in 1985, when the thermometer dropped to -14. The coldest temperature recorded for Marshall was

-26 degrees on Feb. 13, 1905; the warmest winter temperature was 82 degrees on Feb. 29, 1972.

While there is considerable disagreement about the extent and causes of climate change, MRCC's weather tracking shows does indicate the overall temperature in Missouri has increased by 0.5 degrees and by 1.5 degrees in meteorological winter, defined as December, January and February, since the inception of official weather record-keeping in 1896.

Annual precipitation has increased by 1.5 inches in the state as a whole and by 0.4 inches in winter.

More than a foot of snow in parts of Missouri cause a variety of problems throughout the state, according to an Associated Press report.

The snow began Wednesday afternoon in western Missouri and began falling Wednesday night in the St. Louis area and continued into Thursday.

By Thursday morning, some St. Louis-area towns had up to 15 inches. Kansas City and northwest Missouri got up to 8 inches of snow. Mid-Missouri had more than a half-foot of snow, according to the AP.

Road crews worked through the night but dozens of accidents, mostly fender-benders, were reported across the state.

In St. Louis, police shut down an Interstate 64 ramp at Kingshighway after about 20 cars got stuck on the hilly ramp.

More than 1,000 schools were closed across the state.

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