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New December snowfall record set in Kenmare

Kenmare now has the dubious distinction of having record snowfall in December 2016.

1/03/17 (Tue)


Piling up . . . Driving up Central Avenue in Kenmare, much of the Memorial Hall is obscured from view by a massive snow pile on the north side of the Impact Mechanics parking lot.

By Marvin Baker

Kenmare now has the dubious distinction of having record snowfall in December 2016.

The Christmas Day blizzard brought enough snow to eclipse the old record of 22.5 inches set in December 1989.

In the city of Kenmare, 18 inches of snow fell along with strong gusty wind on Christmas Day creating a blizzard condition. That, along with 5 inches of snow the rest of the month, brought the total to the new record of 23 inches.

Many people are suggesting this is going to be a long winter because it only began on Dec. 21. In addition, the long-range weather forecast is calling for a stretch of 10 consecutive days with daytime highs below zero. That means none of that snow, that included 18 inches on Nov. 28, is going to melt anytime soon. Adding to the total, another 4 inches or more of snow fell Monday, Jan. 2.

Average snow for entire winter is 38 inches

The two major snow events early in the season seem quite fantastic, and has already passed the seasonal average of 38 inches.

Kenmare’s average snowfall in December is 6 inches and the average snow depth is about 5 inches.

Ironically, January is when the community normally receives the greatest portion of snowfall. An average January is 9.6 inches of snow, and although everyone thinks March is the snowiest month, we usually get 7 inches.

According to the North Dakota State Historical Society, there’s an average of three to four severe blizzards a decade.

Worst N.D. blizzards

Of the most notable North Dakota blizzards, there was one on Jan. 12, 1888, which killed 112 people.

On March 15, 1941, 39 people died, trapped in their cars in 85-mile-per-hour wind.

The most famous blizzard started March 2, 1966 that dropped 35 inches of snow and had wind gusts that peaked at 100 miles per hour.

Many people saw 30-foot snowdrifts after that storm and the state was paralyzed for weeks.

There were only five fatalities in that storm, three were from people who had heart attacks shoveling snow. That was the blizzard that killed 74,000 head of cattle and 52,000 head of sheep, as well as about 2,500 hogs.

Snow load collapsing buildings

There have been reports of many farm buildings that have collapsed in the region from the weight of two major snow events.

The buildings are generally quonsets or pole barns and have farm equipment in them. There haven’t been any reports of animals being killed or injured, but plenty of equipment has been damaged.

David Stark, who lives near Tolley, lost a quonset on Monday (Dec. 26) that had tractors, balers and other vehicles inside.

“It did a lot of damage, the building is totalled,” Stark said. “That was a steel building with a steel frame and it went down.”

Stark said an insurance adjuster analyzed the damage on Thursday, but couldn’t get a clear analysis of the equipment damage because the roof still rests on top the equipment.

He said a crane will have to be brought in and lift the metal off the equipment to reveal the extent of damage inside the structure.

“It’s insured and the everything in it is insured, otherwise it would be a big loss,” Stark said. “It’s a big loss anyway.”

He’s been trying to pull some of the snow off his other buildings, but plenty remains.

Stark added he received 24 inches of snow on Christmas Day. “Back in the ‘60s and late ‘70s we got a lot of snow, but not this early,” Stark said. “For December this is a lot and this is heavy snow. It isn’t light stuff.”

Curtis Peterson, who is also a Tolley-area farmer and was in that band of 24 inches, lost a quonset as well. He said it isn’t totally down, but has collapsed enough that vehicles can’t be removed.

“There was too much snow on the roof and it was a flat roof,” Peterson said. “There was probably 3 feet of snow on it from two storms.”

Peterson reported some equipment damage, but nothing has been deemed a total loss, other than a pickup that took some major roof damage.

“I worry about these steel roofs,” he said. “I don’t want to go up there.”

Keith Graff of Donnybrook is another who lost a building from the weight of the two snow events of Nov. 28 and Christmas Day. His was a Morton pole building and he said it just couldn’t take the weight of the heavy, wet snow.

“There’s 3 feet of snow on the part that’s still standing,” he said. “That was just too much snow.”

Graff admits it’s a mess and he isn’t sure what he is going to do because he can’t get the equipment out.

The building remains standing at its ends, but in the middle, his semi-trailer is holding up what is left of the building... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!