Snowfall depth of 20 inches exceeds record set in 1978; bitter wind, cold continuing
Via Billings Gazette:
Heavy snowfall in the Billings area let up later Friday afternoon, but overnight temperatures were expected to plunge to well below zero and winds over the weekend will make weather and travel conditions dangerous.
The storm led to a morning snow depth measurement of 20 inches at the Billings Logan International Airport, making it the highest snow depth since 1978, or in 38 years, the National Weather Service in Billings said on Friday.
The snow depth is measured at the airport and is the level of what was already on the ground plus new accumulations, said Ryan Walsh, a meteorologist. A snow depth of 20 inches has not occurred in nearly four decades, making it "kind of unique," he said.
By Friday evening snow depth at the airport had shrunk down to 18 inches, likely a combined result of snow compression and wind displacement, said Dan Borsun, an NWS senior forecaster.
Gus, a German wirehair pointer, plays in the snow as he goes sledding at Pioneer Park with owners Caleb and Kara Payment on Friday, December 16, 2016.
The weather service advised people and travelers to bundle up when outside to prevent frostbite to exposed skin and to use caution while driving.
Schools across the county were closed Friday. But unlike last year's snow day, where Billings sledding hills were packed, only a few hardy people roamed Pioneer Park.
Tara Lewis trekked from her Lockwood home to Pioneer Park with her two children. The family recently moved to Billings from Kansas City and is in the midst of its first Montana winter.
"We're trying," Lewis laughed when asked if the group was enjoying sledding. She didn't predict they'd last much longer before retreating inside.
Snowfall in Billings — which broke Thursday's record with 11 inches — did not break the Dec. 16 record of 13 inches. Total storm accumulation of snow was 16.6 inches, 5.6 of which came on Friday, Borsun said.
This is the highest two-day snowfall since 2000, when there was 15.8 inches at the NWS office on the West End.