Record Snowstorm with Thunder
January 18 to 19, 1995
A snowstorm lasting 24 hours dumped a record 19.7 inches at the National Weather Service at the Columbia Regional Airport 13 miles south of Columbia, MO. In town itself 13.5 inches fell at this observer's location in the northeast part of town near the intersection of Highway 63 and Interstate 70.
Snow began about 6 PM on the 18th at least intermittently, but was steadier at the National Weather Service and Airport. The snow increased in it's intensity significantly by midnight. Moderate to heavy snow continued through the night and following day, ending late in the afternoon.
Several periods of thunder occurred from 12:50 AM to 5:30 AM. An intense burst of snow from 4 AM to 4:20 AM produced the heaviest snow this observer has seen in his lifetime. In spite of the fact that the snow diminished to a more moderate snow after 4:20 AM, the snow still accumulated 2 3/4 inches in 1 hour by 5 AM. The burst was so intense that it hardly looked like snow. The winds picked up and thick plumes of snow fell rapidly as if they were being driven into the ground.
Important to note is that the 19.7 inches at the Airport is a cumulative measurement based on 6 hourly measurements. The 13.5 inches in town is the total measured on the ground at the end of the storm rather than a cumulative value. This discrepancy in measuring is important since the snow was a heavy weight high water content snow. Also the ground was relatively warm for the time of year. The bottom few inches of snow was almost slush since the snow was melting a little from the bottom. Also, based on radar, the heaviest snow fell just south of town including at the Airport.