Winter Storm Hunter Could Vault Erie, Pennsylvania, to a New Snowfall Record
Published: January 11, 2018
Snow-fatigued Erie, Pennsylvania, could be clobbered again as Winter Storm Hunter brings a mess of snow and ice to the Great Lakes and interior Northeast late this week.
The northwestern Pennsylvania city has already seen 133 inches of snow – more than 11 feet – through Jan. 10, making it the snowiest city (population of 100,000 or more) in the United States so far this winter.
An average winter only features 100.9 inches, but Erie blew past that before the end of December thanks to an epic lake-effect event that dumped 65.1 inches of snow from Christmas Eve through the morning of Dec. 27. For more on that historic event, scroll to our recap section below.
(MORE: Winter Storm Hunter Forecast)
Erie's snowiest winter on record occurred 17 years ago, during the 2000-01 season, when 149.1 inches piled up at Erie International Airport. That means only 16.1 inches of additional snow will tie the record, and since we haven't yet reached the midpoint of winter, it seems likely a new record will be set in the weeks ahead.
(MORE: Where Winter Weather Has Already Been Extreme Through Early January)
Snowfall records in Erie date back to the 1931-32 winter season, according to the National Weather Service.
Although Winter Storm Hunter is expected to bring several inches of snow to Erie, it likely won't be enough to vault the city to the record, but it certainly won't be far off by the time Hunter exits the region.
(FORECAST: Erie, Pennsylvania)
Before Hunter arrived, temperatures reached 60 degrees Thursday afternoon, not far from the daily record high of 66 degrees set in 1890.
Recap: Christmas Week Historic Lake-Effect Snow
From Christmas Eve through the morning of Dec. 27, Erie's snow total was an astounding 65.1 inches. A stationary lake-effect snow band off Lake Erie dumped 34 inches of snow at Erie International Airport on Christmas Day alone, with an additional 26.5 inches on Dec. 26.
(MORE: The Science Behind Lake-Effect Snow)
This prolific event shattered several Erie snowfall records that date to 1893, as well as a Pennsylvania state record, according to the National Weather Service office in Cleveland.
- All-time record for two-day snowfall in the state of Pennsylvania: 60.5 inches (Dec. 25-26); previous record was 44 inches in Morgantown on March 20-21, 1958
- All-time record for snow in any single day in Erie: 34 inches (Dec. 25); previous record was 20 inches on Nov. 22, 1956
- 24-hour snowfall record for Dec. 25 in Erie: 34 inches; previous record was 8.1 inches in 2002
- 24-hour snowfall record for Dec. 26 in Erie: 26.5 inches; previous record was 8.2 inches in 1926
Erie's records for two-day, three-day, seven-day and 13-day snowfall were also broken during this lake-effect event.
- Two-day snowfall: 26.7 inches (Nov. 24-25, 1950; the "Great Appalachian Storm")
- Three-day snowfall: 30.2 inches (Dec. 29-31, 2002)
- Seven-day snowfall: 39.8 inches (Dec. 27, 2001-Jan. 2, 2002)
- 13-day snowfall: 52.8 inches (Dec. 31, 1998-Jan. 12, 1999)
That's not a misprint. Erie picked up more snow in less than 36 hours in this event than its previous 13-day snowstorm record.
Needless to say, the 121.3 inches of snow in December was the city's snowiest single month on record, clobbering the previous record of 66.9 inches in December 1989 by over 4 feet.
That's also more snow in one month than Erie averages in an entire winter season – 100.9 inches.
What's more, this was also the snowiest month on record anywhere in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania state climatologist. The previous record was 113 inches in February 2010 at Laurel Summit in Somerset County.
(MORE: The Great Lakes' Amazing Lake-Effect Snowfall Records)
This wasn't just a record-breaking event in Erie.
In central New York's Tug Hill Plateau, a 48-hour snowfall record for Oswego County may have been broken, with 62.2 inches of snow near the town of Redfield.
Finally, Muskegon, Michigan, picked up 14.7 inches of snow on Dec. 29 alone, good enough for one of its 10 snowiest days on record, according to the National Weather Service.
Brian Donegan is a digital meteorologist at weather.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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