January 5, 2012 |

Snowfall at border tips 1-day mark

It takes more than a couple feet of snow falling in a day to surprise residents who live near the U.S. border station at 42 Mile, where colder temperatures mean more snowfall and longer winters than in town.

The New Year’s Day storm on Sunday was a surprise: 42 inches in 24 hours, according to the records of the National Weather Service cooperative station maintained by customs officials. Ron Weishahn, a retired school principal who lives at 40 Mile and has kept daily weather records for 30 years, measured the same amount atop a platform in his back yard.

"It’s beautiful, but my God, it’s still coming down," said Lillian Harris, who was working the counter at 33 Mile Roadhouse Tuesday. "It’s up above the windowsills."

Weishahn said Sunday’s accumulation tops the previous single-day dump at his place, 30 inches that fell Dec. 5, 1985. Total highway snowfall this winter through Tuesday was 197 inches, on pace for the fourth highest accumulation in his records, Weishahn said.

(In the winter of 2006-7, when just over 300 inches of snow fell in town, 396 inches fell at the border.)

A border official who didn’t provide his name said the 42 inches were measured on official equipment. The storm was "intense," he said. "We kept the cars under cover; otherwise, it would have been impossible. Our plow guy was out all day."

Weishahn, whose snow-moving career at 40 Mile evolved from use of a shovel to a snowblower to a Bobcat, and most recently to a Bobcat with an enclosed, heated cab, described his day: "There are two or three times a day you do shovel work and Bobcat work and you go out and help the neighbors out a little. What you do is laugh if you have a sense of humor, or at least you puzzle over why you’d live in such a place."

Bobcat work isn’t so bad, as the enclosed cab is warmer than his house, Weishahn said.

Two more inches of snow fell Monday, but the storm didn’t top a two-day record of 50 inches that fell Dec. 4-5, 1985. Weishahn remembers walking through chest-deep snow after that storm to reach the highway, then seeing a "cloud" approaching. It was school bus driver Jerry Lapp, seeing if he could punch through ahead of snowplows.

Lapp stopped the bus, Weishahn jumped in and they made it to the border station, parking there to wait for plows to catch up.