By winter's end, every gringo living in Utah will know at least two Spanish words: El and Nino.
OK, you're sick of hearing about the once-in-a-decade meteorological phenomenon causing global weather madness. And no, you don't need to be reminded of El Nino's February excursion through the Beehive State - with its March revisit still upon us.Still, it's worth noting several local precipitation records were shattered last month - and likely won't be broken until El Nino visits again, possibly early next century.
Perhaps most significant was a Feb. 24-25 storm that shattered the all-time snow-depth mark over a 24-hour period. Almost 19 inches of snow fell from Feb. 24 at 8:17 a.m. until the same hour the next day, according to the National Weather Service.
The prior high-depth mark was 18.4 inches in October 1984.
That storm prompted the day-long closure of the Salt Lake International Airport and several Salt Lake County private schools, although public schools remained open.
Power was also knocked out for a while in several Salt Lake-area spots, including the Capitol.
Among the other records:
- Unequaled February snowfall and precipitation totals were recorded at the Salt Lake International Airport. Snowfall exceeded 32 inches, while precipitation amounts reached 4.89 inches.
"In fact, (February) was the third wettest month on record at the airport," noted local Weather Service chief William Alder.
- February 1998 was easily the snowiest February ever in Utah, with 32.1 inches. The prior high of 27.9 was set in 1969.
- Also, it was the wettest-ever February, with precipitation topping 4.89 inches. In fact, February 1998 was Utah's wettest recorded month for any December-through-February winter period and the third wettest month overall, trailing only behind October 1982 (7.04 inches) and April 1944 (4.9 inches).
- Last month was especially generous to northern Utah's ski resorts. Record snow amounts fell at Alta (156.6 inches) and Snowbird (129 inches).
- Any early January whispers of drought were silenced by recent storms. At month's end, the current water year stands at 9.9 inches, 153 percent of normal.