Looking Back at the Northern Black Hills Blizzard of 1998

In late February 1998, a strong winter storm produced heavy snow and prolonged blizzard conditions over much of western South Dakota.  The terrain of the Black Hills enhanced the snowfall over the northern Hills, resulting in extraordinary snow amounts.
 
Snow started shortly after midnight on February 25 and continued until almost midnight March 1 for almost five days of continuous snow. By March 2, Lead had received almost 115 inches of snow, while Rapid City measured only 1.4”. This storm set several records for Lead. It produced the greatest storm total snowfall of any storm; the next highest was just under 70 inches in March 1988. Snowfall on three individual days of the storm ranked as the ninth, eleventh, and twenty-seventh highest daily snowfalls for the station.  The snow depth of 73 inches on March 1 (more than six feet) was the highest ever measured in Lead. 
 
Daily observations at Lead:
                          Snowfall     Snow Depth
February 25        15.4"                 11"
                26         24.9                  26           27th greatest daily snowfall
                27         33.8                  48             9th greatest daily snowfall
                28           5.9                  50
March       1          32.4                 73           11th greatest daily snowfall; greatest snow depth
                  2            2.2                 67
Total                   114.6”
 
Comparisons to other snowstorms:
Storm Total Snowfall:
1)    114.6” from Feb 25-Mar 1
2)     69.4” March 10-12, 1988
3)     66.9” in Apr 24-27, 1984
4)     64.9” in April 18-20, 2006
5)     56.0” March 28-30, 1977
6)     55.3” in Oct 8-10,1982
 
Daily Snowfall:
1)    52.0” on March 14, 1973
2)    45.1” on Nov 6, 2008
3)    44.5” on April 19, 2006
4)    40.2” on March 11, 1988
5)    39.2” on May 2, 2008
6)    38.9” on Oct 26, 1996
7)    35.2” on Apr 26, 1994
8)    33.9” on Apr 5, 1997
9)    33.8” on Feb 27, 1998
10) 33.4” on Oct 5, 1998
 
Snow Depth:
1)    73” on March 1, 1998
2)    53” on March 30 1977
3)    48” on March 14, 1973
4)    46” on Feb 2, 1994
5)    45” on Apr 27, 1984
 
An analysis provides greater detail about the scientific aspects of the storm.
 


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