Impending blizzard a reminder of other harsh storms

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SALT LAKE CITY — It's been long enough since Utah last saw blizzard conditions that the National Weather Service had to dig into its archives to find the last time it issued a blizzard warning.

"We're thinking it was 2001," said hydrologist Brian McInerney.

But that doesn't mean Utah has had a shortage of notable storms, or that all of the nasty ones can be categorized as blizzards.

National Weather Service Staff in Salt Lake City also found other notables in their archives on Tuesday, all while cranking out reports about the approaching arctic blast expected to bring "Blizzard 2010" to Utah this afternoon.

Here's a partial list, quickly compiled with help from Kevin Barjenbruch, warning coordinating meteorologist of the NWS, of some past big storms:

2003: Beginning Christmas day, a three-day storm clobbered northern Utah, depositing heavy wet snow. Trees and power lines collapsed under the weight of the wet snow, leaving more than 70,000 people without power. Emergency shelters were opened in Salt Lake City and Ogden. More than 15,000 traffic accidents were reported during the three-day storm period. On December 26, a large avalanche released near Aspen Grove, claiming the lives of three people.

1993: A whopping 23.3 inches of snow fell at Salt Lake City International Airport, the greatest single storm total, between Jan 6-10. For the month of January, 50.3 inches of snow fell, an all time monthly record.

1984: An early-season lake effect snow storm deposited 18.4 inches of snow at Salt Lake City International Airport, a new record for 24 hour snowfall. Power was lost at approximately 20,000 homes and about 500,000 trees were damaged.

1978: A 120 mile-per-hour wind gust was recorded at Bountiful on Nov. 11.

1948: The National Weather Service lists that winter as the No. 4 weather event for the Beehive State during the 20th century. It was the coldest winter on record to date, with record amounts of seasonal snowfall with nearly a 25 percent loss in some livestock herds reported. Many fruit trees were killed and 10 people died from exposure.

1933: The mercury dropped to minus 30 degrees on Feb. 9, the coldest reading ever recorded at Salt Lake City International Airport.

Story compiled with contributions from Steve Fidel and Carole Mikita.

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