Estimated 75 inches of snow reported so far this winter - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

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Estimated 75 inches of snow reported so far this winter

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When your out-of-town relatives call during the winter. You have to brag, or moan, about how much snow has fallen.

But when they ask now, the official answer is just a bit harder to come by. "Several years ago The FAA Contract, they ended snowfall observation, they didn't feel it was necessary to airport observations," says Sam Lashley, Senior Meteorologist of the National Weather Service.

That means there's no longer a group of people being paid to take measurements at the South Bend airport like there used to be because those weather observers are gone. So the National Weather Service had to get creative. To find someone to permanently do measurements every six hours, 24/7, 365 days a year, they use estimated measurements from the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network. These volunteers are armed with the proper tools.

Lashley says, "All snow observers have a snow board. It's about a two-foot-by-two-foot piece of material, very flat, it lays on the ground. And then we have special yard sticks but they're in 10ths of an inch, not 8th of an inch like you find in a hardware store." The National Weather Service looks at the data from observers within a five mile range of the airport, then they average them for an estimated total.

So based on that, where are we this year? According to those numbers averaged from the National Weather Service, the South Bend area is right around 75 inches. The record-breaking year was back in 1978. On this date during that year, we already had 100 inches. So while we're close with 75, we're not quite hitting the record. But Lashley says, don't count this winter season out just yet. "We still have February and even March to go. Last year, March was our snowiest month of the winter," he says.

Lashley says right now with the numbers we have, this winter puts itself in the top 7 snowiest winters Michiana has seen.

When the official numbers are measured and put out every day around 7 AM, the National Weather Service is NOT including Snow fall or snow depth from the South Bend Airport right now. We're told they'd like to find a dedicated group of volunteers to take specific measurements at the airport. Until that happens, they are relying on nearby measurements to come up with their unofficial estimate.

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