ST. GEORGE – Since Saturday morning, St. George has experienced the most severe winter weather the region has seen in living memory. Record snowfalls and record low temperatures have driven residents indoors and area stores can’t keep up with the sudden demand for sleds, snow shovels, and ice-melt. Just how unusual has the weather been for Southern Utah? Meteorologists say that you’d have to go back around 100 years to see anything quite like it.
For St. George, this is about as cold as it gets, said Nannette Hosenfeld, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s forecast office in Salt Lake City.
“St. George has been below freezing or right near it for the past three or four days,” Hosenfeld said. “It’s really unusual to get such a prolonged period of low temperatures in Southern Utah.”
The NWS does not currently have a registered weather station in St. George, however, according to measurements taken at the St. George Municipal Airport, temperatures reached as low as 1 degree Fahrenheit early Monday morning. Other unofficial measurements taken in town recorded lows of zero and minus 1.
NWS Meteorologist Christine Kruse keeps a close eye on weather records in the state of Utah. She said that, while the NWS did not collect any official data from St. George this week, if it really did reach zero, Monday morning would be the coldest it has been in St. George since the all-time record was set at minus 11 degrees in January of 1937.
The weekend snowfall set records for the region as well. On Saturday, Zion National Park saw its most intense 24-hour snowfall in years.
“They ended up with 12 inches from the storm,” Kruse said, which makes it the second-heaviest snowfall ever recorded at the park in a 24-hour period. The all-time record was set in 1894 when 15 inches of snow fell in a single day.
While the NWS does not have an official measurement for St. George, Bloomington Resident Jeanette Madsen collects precipitation data for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, a nationwide volunteer organization that measures daily precipitation levels from thousands of locations across North America. Madsen took snow measurements in Bloomington.
“My measurement was 5 and 1/2 inches,” Madsen said, “but I know upstream in Springdale and Rockville they had more than I did.” Madsen said that some areas of St. George reported measurements of between six and eight inches.
Eight inches of snow would have made Saturday the third heaviest snowfall in St. George since 1919. Even 6 inches of snow would have been more snowfall than St. George has seen since Jan. 1974.
Kruse said that, while it’s unusual to see so much snow in this area, the NWS does not believe that there is any danger of flooding.
“The amount of water in the snow isn’t exceptional,” Kruse said. “It’s less water than we’d get from a summertime thunderstorm, so we aren’t worried about flooding.” Five or 6 inches of snow, when melted, typically translate into around half-an-inch of water or less, she said, and “that amount typically isn’t enough to cause flooding.”
While St. George has set a number of records this week, they aren’t official. St. George has not had a weather station registered with the National Weather Service since midsummer, so the NWS will not record official records for St. George this winter. The NWS is currently trying to establish another registered station in the area, Kruse said, and they hope to resume record-keeping efforts soon.
While tonight’s low temperatures are expected to plummet to 17 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures in St. George are expected to rise during the week, with daytime highs reaching into the 40s by Friday afternoon.
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- News short: Monday road conditions
- Road, highway concerns after the storm, with or without plows
- Gorge closure; people stranded overnight recount experiences
- Sunny day after the snow; STGnews Photo Gallery
- St. George Municipal Airport is open, SkyWest-Delta flights resume operation
- News short: I-15 through Virgin River Gorge is open
- Movement in The Gorge for those in gridlock, closure remains in effect
- Local churches cancel Sunday services, observing public safety warnings
- Breaking News: I-15 through The Gorge completely closed, evacuation plan
- Northbound I-15 through the Gorge is closed, semitrailers stuck
- Minor slide-offs, accidents on I-15, heavy snowfall in the Gorge
- STGnews Photo Gallery: Let it Snow
- Winter Storm Warning: Statewide snow, gusty winds, road alerts
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