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South Bend breaks single-day snowfall record

January 08, 2011|By TOM MOOR, Tribune Staff Writer

SOUTH BEND — The blizzard of 1978 may no longer be the landmark snow event locals refer to first when mentioning the all-time great winter storms.

At the very least, it now has some company.

With several hours still to spare today, South Bend has already set a single-day snowfall record. From midnight to 1 p.m. today, 23.6 inches of snow had blanketed South Bend Regional Airport, while 34.2 inches of the white stuff had fallen since 7 a.m. Friday.

The snowfall amount breaks the old mark — a midnight-to-midnight total — of 20 inches set on Jan. 30, 1909.

The city's snowfall was also flirting with the possible state record of 33 inches over any 24-hour period.

From 1 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. today, South Bend recorded 32.1 inches. Nick Greenawalt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said it was possible the state mark could still be eclipsed, as more snow was expected into the night.

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So how exactly does this storm compare to the blizzard of 1978?

The highest daily snowfall during that storm was 15.6 inches on Jan. 26, 1978 — far less than this weekend. But there were also 5.6 inches recorded on Jan. 25, 2.8 on Jan. 27 and 3.1 on Jan. 28, giving it possibly more longevity.

What made that blizzard so memorable, Greenawalt said, was the blowing snow. Gusts of up to 50 mph created 10-foot snowdrifts in places.

The heaviest hit area this weekend was the northwestern side of South Bend, near the U.S. 31 Bypass and the Indiana Toll Road. Areas outside South Bend fared much better. Buchanan and southern Berrien County had about a foot of snow or more as of Saturday afternoon, Greenawalt said.

Greenawalt said the South Bend area could still see more snow before the lake-effect bands die out Sunday morning.

Nate Hibschman, 29, of South Bend, spent the day shoveling out his driveway — and his neighbors’, for that matter. Using his Troy-Bilt snowblower, Hibschman spent hours clearing his neighborhood on Jody Court on the city's far northwest side.

"It's nice to help," he said during a break. "What's the point of having something like this without helping out?"

"It's cool to see everyone come together," Hibschman's girlfriend, Sarah Beutter, said.

Despite the poor conditions, local police departments in southwest Michigan reported very few calls of accidents.

Sgt. Clair Coulston, of the Michigan State Police, said there have been some calls of slideoffs but nothing major.

In Cass County, officials advised residents to use caution if they need to drive. The Cass County central dispatch had taken a "couple" of accident-related calls, but nothing major had been reported as of late Saturday morning.

A dispatcher said the state roads were "pretty clear" but reported the side roads were still very much snow-covered.Weather-related Links







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