Weather Talk: A record single-storm snowfall is rare, but possible

How much snow could we potentially get from a single snowstorm in the Northern Plains?

National single-storm snow records mostly come from mountainous regions or downwind from the Great Lakes where local geography can contribute to ridiculous snowfalls of 5 feet or more.

The record single-storm snowfall in Fargo-Moorhead was in January of 1989 when we were buried under 24.5 inches. During that storm, there were two separate, two-hour periods in which snow fell at a rate of 3 inches per hour. Had snow bands like those persisted for longer periods of time, the storm total could have been much higher.

Record single-storm totals from across the Great Plains region suggest that snowfalls of up to 4 feet are possible, although rare. The Halloween blizzard of 1991 dropped 36 inches on Duluth. A snowstorm dumped 45 inches on Gettysburg, SD, in 1994. A storm dropped 47 inches across northwest Iowa in 1965. Such a storm in Fargo-Moorhead is certainly possible, but it would take nearly perfect snow conditions.