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Northwest mountain claims snow record.

In the middle of a hot, dry summer comes a bit of frosty news. A team of weather experts announced last week that 95 feet of snow fell in the past snow season at Mt. Baker Ski Area in Washington, setting a U.S. record for the highest annual snowfall.

The ski area sits at an elevation of 4,200 feet. Because the snow measurements did not come from an official station for the National Weather Service, the committee of climatologists had to assess the measurement techniques and the quality of the data before they approved the new record, which covers the period July 1998 through June 1999.

The total snowfall of 1,140 inches beat the previous record of 1,122 inches established in 1971-1972 at the Paradise station on Mt. Rainier, about 150 miles south of Mt. Baker. In an average year, Mt. Baker receives about 600 inches of snow.

The snowpack depth at Mt. Baker totaled 26.5 feet at its peak this year, and 18 feet of snow still remained when the climatologists went to visit on June 8, says the team leader, Robert J. Leffler of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md. The weight of so much snow sliding slowly down the mountain severely bent the steel supports of some chairlifts, says Leffler.

He says that the new figure probably also represents a world record, although the committee evaluates only U.S. data.
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Author:R.M.
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U9WA
Date:Aug 14, 1999
Words:242
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