All right, then: If we’ve got to have an April blizzard, how much snow will it take to be historic?
No, it won’t be historic because it’s in April. Wrong answer.
But it will be historic if North Platte gets the 9 to 15 inches projected by the National Weather Service — regardless of whether this storm proves to be Nebraska’s second “bomb cyclone” in a month.
We’ll get to the statistics in a moment.
But first, to settle all arguments at your favorite coffee shop: Yes, we’ve seen weather like this here before. Quite often.
Remember last year? North Platte got 2.8 inches of snow on April Fools’ Day and 4.6 inches of snow on April 13. The weather service office at Lee Bird Field recorded 9.5 inches of snow for all of April 2018.
Or, if you’re an old-timer in these parts, remember April 2-3, 1984? That was a blizzard, too. It dropped 9.1 inches of snow on North Platte and 2 feet up north in Mullen.
True, it’s a bit later on the April calendar this time around. But — hang on to your snow shovels — 6 inches of snow once fell in North Platte on May 5, 1950, according to snowfall records kept here since 1893.
Don’t forget those 1880s April blizzards in South Dakota that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about, either. This stuff happens on the Great Plains.
So, in case you’ve got bar bets to make, here’s how much snow it will take for our younger readers to be able to tell amazed locals in 10 or 20 years: “Sure we get snow in April — remember 2019?”
» In that 9.1-inch 1984 blizzard, 8.5 inches fell on April 2. That’s the single-day April record in North Platte — meaning reaching even the low end of that 9- to 15-inch forecast will top it. If that much falls between midnight and midnight today, that is.
» Getting close to the top end over that time period, though, would break North Platte’s all-time single-day snowfall record. The current record of 12.6 inches was recorded twice, on March 21, 1894, and Nov. 15, 1909.
» If North Platte reaches that 15-inch maximum before the storm moves out, that would hand 2019 the month-long April snowfall record in one blow. That April 2-3 blizzard in 1984 was followed by a 5.4-inch snowfall on April 29, lifting that April’s total to 14.5 inches.
» Finally, we only need 9.2 inches from this storm to set a more unusual record: most snow since Valentine’s Day.
Despite recording 35.4 inches of snowfall since Nov. 1, North Platte isn’t anywhere close to a record for the six months between that date and April 30.
But remember how it seemed 2018-19 would be an “open winter”? Only 11.1 inches of total snow fell during November, December, January and the first half of February.
We’ve had 24.3 inches of snow since then, already No. 7 all-time for North Platte between Feb. 14 and April 30. As snowy as 1984’s overtime winter was, it only ranked third over that period. The late winter and early spring of 1961 tops the charts at 33.5 inches.
So that’s it. Now we wait and see what happens.