Does It Really Matter If This Was A Record Snowfall?

Me Shoveling Driveway
Me Shoveling My Driveway | Photo by Suzanne Chuey (My Wife)

Over my years in broadcast meteorology I have been through just about every kind of natural disaster there is except a tsunami since I have never lived by the shore. The details of those disasters are described in detail by various witnesses. One thing I have noticed is how people perceive the disaster that happened to them. Windstorms tend to do serious damage to structures and in areas where tornadoes are prevalent I have heard people say their house was damaged or destroyed by a tornado whether that was true or not. It’s part of our makeup I guess to sort of brag that “My house was destroyed by a tornado,” rather that the truth that very strong gusts huffed and puffed and blew their house down. it just sounds more impressive.

This brings me to our big snowstorm that came to wrap up the month of February with an unusually deep blanket of snow. Did we actually set any records? Was it second only to the “Blizzard of 1969?” We can add up the numbers, but in the long run it just doesn’t matter. Trees fell, trees fell on homes and vehicles, trees fell on and broke power lines and the snow kept piling up in the streets causing all manner of problems. Whole towns like Oakridge became isolated due to hundreds of trees falling across the roads that connected them to the “outside world.”

Upper Low Offshore
Jet stream Map Showing Upper Level Low Offshore | Image by

The above map shows the upper level low offshore that helped push the surface lows and fronts through the Pacific Northwest. If you look to the bottom left of the map you’ll notice that the jet stream is bringing a significant fetch of moisture from the area of the Hawaiian Islands. That moisture flow is more commonly called the “Pineapple Express.” The event started off inauspiciously enough with pretty heavy rain on Saturday February 23rd compliments of the “Express.” The Mahlon Sweet Airport in Eugene reported 0.61 inches of rain for the day while my rain gauge registered 0.82 inches of rain.

Snowfall For 2/24
Snowfall From My Driveway 1:01AM 2/25 (Actually Night Of 2/24

Colder air aloft moved in and the snow began on Sunday February 24th. I measured 1.50 inches of snow by 1 AM Monday with 1.90 inches of rainfall in my gauge. The airport reported 1.92 in. of melted precipitation and 2.50 inches of snow for the day.

Over A Foot Of Snow
Heaviest Snowfall 10:26 AM 2/25/19 Brave soul walking in vehicle tire tracks. | Photo by Tim Chuey

We turn the page and Monday February 25th with 1.24 in. of melted precipitation and 9.5 inches of snow for the day at the airport and the storm dropped 1.90 inches of melted precipitation and produced 12.25 inches of snow at my house.

Workers Cutting Up My Tree
My Tree Down In The Street At 10:25 AM 2/2/19 (Two City Workers Cutting It Up) | Photo by Tim Chuey
Worker Closeup
Closeup Of Two City Workers Cutting Up My Tree | Photo by Tim Chuey

An oak tree in my front yard fell over onto the street sometime between 1:00 am and 4 am Wednesday 2/27. It survived the first wave of snow, but over a foot of snow was too much for it to bear. Thankfully it didn’t fall on a vehicle or a person, just the street.

Weather Map
Surface Weather Map Showing Last Wave of Storm Wednesday AM 2.27.19| Image by NWS Storm Prediction Center

It looked like things were settling down but by late Tuesday through Wednesday 6 inches of new snow Tuesday night with an additional inch of snow and 1.25 inches of ice (embedded in the top snow layers) fell at my house by Wednesday morning. I received 1.08 inches of melted precipitation on Tuesday and 0.49 inches on Wednesday. The airport reported 0.32 inches of melted precipitation on Tuesday and 0.13 inches on Wednesday with 6.5 inches of snow on Tuesday and 0.3 inches of snow Wednesday. As you can see on the above map, the complex frontal system with two low pressure centers connected by an occlusion and a cold front moved to the east producing the last of the significant snowfall, for this storm at least.

Shoveling Driveway
Me Shoveling Out My Driveway 2/26/19 2:56 PM | Photo By Suzanne Chuey (My Wife)

Temperatures started to warm up just a bit Thursday as the rain and snow showers became very sparse for the time being at least the big storm was over, but much of the snow and fallen debris remained.  The cleanup will take some time especially on some of the area side streets and in the hills. I watched many vehicles attempt to go up the hill past my house and many of them had to back down and run up multiple times. Some made it and some didn’t.

Stuck car
Car Stuck On My Street 12:48 PM 3/1/19| Photo by Tim Chuey

One unfortunate driver got his car stuck along the curb at the downhill side of my yard when the street was still covered in deep snow except for the tread marks left by previous vehicles. The car was still there with deep snow under, on and around it on Friday March 1st when I took the picture.  A few hours later the care was gone. I assume the owner found it easier to move due to the melting snow. A snowplow did scrape a single lane width down the middle of my street on Wednesday 2/27/19 which made it possible at least to get off of my own street and out to the main roads that have been cleared. Summing up this storm is quite easy. We had too much snow, too many trees fell (many on power lines), widespread power failures, and loss of cable TV and internet services. I don’t know about you but Spring can’t come soon enough for me. I haven’t seen official word from the National Weather Service as to whether this was the second oe even third worst snow storm ever for Eugene-Springfield, but we all know it was one of the most challenging.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

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