Tiny northern NY village tops snowfall charts with 21 feet

COPENHAGEN, N.Y. (AP) — The snowiest place in America is Bill Hanchek’s back yard, just outside the tiny northern New York village of Copenhagen.

More than 21 feet has fallen on Hanchek’s measuring station behind his house this season. That’s more than any other spot in the United States as of Friday, including the Rockies and Alaska, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It’s more than usual,” conceded Hanchek, who has been the official federal snow measurer for 23 years. “It’s not unusually large yet, though.”

Hanchek, who became a National Weather Service volunteer spotter after his wife, Kathy, saw a notice at the post office, recorded 358 inches — nearly 30 feet — in the winter of 2008-2009. Last winter, it was 325 inches.

Copenhagen, pop. 801, lies in New York’s Tug Hill region, which is perennially the snowiest area east of the Rockies. Tug Hill rises from the eastern end of Lake Ontario, and cold winter winds that whip across the lake pick up moisture and dump aptly named lake-effect snow, sometimes several feet per storm.

While Buffalo gets national attention for its lake-effect snows from Lake Erie, Lake Ontario stays open all winter while Erie freezes. That gives Tug Hill lake-effect snow well into the spring.

“We had a trace amount of snow Memorial Day weekend in 2013,” noted Hanchek, a retired engineer from nearby Fort Drum.

The East has been battered by Arctic air this winter, bringing big lake-effect snowfalls and causing record cold temperatures in Syracuse and other cities. At the same time, a relatively warm and dry winter in the West has depressed snowfall totals there.

Seven of the top ten snowiest places in the country are in New York. That includes Copenhagen’s Tug Hill sister, Redfield, at 227.7 inches, and several areas near Buffalo that were slammed with a massive-lake effect storm in November.

Copenhagen always gets a lot of snow. This year, though, bitterly cold temperatures have kept that snow from melting. There’s still more than 40 inches on the ground in Hanchek’s yard. The nearest official National Weather Station, in Watertown, recorded an average February temperature of just 6.1 degrees.

The biggest dump of snow came Jan. 10, according to Hanchek’s data. He had to wade through hip-deep snow to get to the measuring station about 100 feet from his back door and record that day’s final total: 39.6 inches.

Village Mayor Kenneth Clarke said it’s been a challenge keeping streets and sidewalks clear this winter.

“It’s been just crazy snow,” Clarke said.

___

Information from: The Post-Standard, http://www.syracuse.com

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