With spring around the corner, you may be wondering how your state is measuring up in snowfall for the 2016-17 winter season. If you live in the western U.S., especially near the Rockies where snowstorms are a basic part of life, you're probably feeling like you've had a heavy snowfall this year. If so, you would be right. With several weeks of potential snow season remaining, many areas are at or approaching their seasonal snowfall averages.
In a report published by the Weather Channel in October 2016, Paradise Ranger Station at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington had an average of 645.5 inches of snow between 1989 and mid-2015. This information "making it by far the snowiest place in the United States, and one of the snowiest places in the world."
So far this year, the Paradise Ranger Station has measured 456.2 inches of snow. Other states in the West are even closer to their average snowfall. Alta, Utah had an average of 456.9 inches over the three-decade span, and this year so far Alta measures 375.7 inches of snow. Climax, Colorado has a three-decade average of 273.8 inches, and this year it is already up to 242 inches. Of course, these measurements are not purely statistics. What looks breathtaking on a distant snowcap can be dangerous on your local roads.
James Morin, maintenance operations manager for Washington DOT, spoke of the effects of this winter season in his state. "It's really been lowland statewide events that have impacted our budget," he said.
You may be surprised at the amounts of money each state spends trying to keep the roads safe. Out of all the states that shared their snow and ice removal expenses, most of them are either exceeding their budgets or almost meeting them in an effort to keep Americans safe. These clean, dry roads are extremely important. Not only do they keep commuters out of the ER and save lives, but they also support the economy. Safe roads mean that more workers can travel to their places of employment and more customers can join them. Also, if the roads aren't clear, emergency personnel such as policemen, fire trucks and ambulances are going to have a harder time reaching the people in need. Public transportation and school buses may be stalled as well.
But our safety on the road cannot be completely left up to the states. Since you can't always plan ahead for unpredictable weather, it is important to prepare your travel plans and vehicle ahead of time. Teach your teen drivers to always check the weather prior to leaving home, as this could be a very stressful parenting moment. Snow can be fun but remember the mantra: safety first.
Note: This year's current cumulative snowfall in inches is based on measurements from NOAA Cooperative Weather Observation Stations only. The data has not been reviewed and has yet to be released as official and final statistics.