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The original item was published from 12/26/2014 9:52:07 AM to 1/10/2015 12:10:01 AM.

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Butte-Silver Bow

Posted on: December 26, 2014

[ARCHIVED] Butte's snowfall records frozen in time – for now

In 1911, an October snowstorm dumped 30 inches on Butte. It still stands as a single-day snowfall record. For now, it will never be broken.

It’s not a matter of how much it snows; even if Butte gets 100 inches tomorrow, it wouldn’t count. Not for the official record books, anyway.

That’s because Butte no longer has an official recording station for snowfall. It doesn’t even have an unofficial site.

Records were previously kept at Bert Mooney Airport, but that site stopped measuring snowfall in March 2001, according to the National Weather Service. Because that's where measurements were previously recorded, any other site needs to be in the neighborhood.

“In order to keep records, you can’t move too far away,” weather service meteorologist Ryan Leach said. “It’s considered a different site at that point.”

For a while, Butte still at least had some recording of snowfall in town. A volunteer at a site known as Butte South intermittently reported snowfall. It was too far from the airport to count as official record but still offered a point of reference.

“It didn’t meet the technical requirements, but it was comparable,” Leach said.

That site shut down in September 2011. Since then, sweeping snow off a car has been a more official measurement than anything the weather service records.

The airport still records temperature and precipitation. Precipitation is measured using what amounts to a heated can, melting snow as it accumulates. The automated process means that there aren’t boots on the ground – or in the snow.

But anyone willing to let the weather service set up recording instruments on their property can become a recorder of weather data, assuming they meet certain parameters.

Read the full story in The Montana Standard.
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