Snow accumulation in Calgary much higher than normal levels, data shows

The storm that hit Calgary on the weekend dumped as much as 25 centimetres of snow in some parts of the city, but it’s the total accumulation that has really set this winter apart.

There have been 41 days with at least 10 cm of snow on ground. Normal tally is 16.3 days all year

Kids in the southwest community of Coach Hill play on piles of snow on the weekend as Calgary struggles through its snowiest winter in decades. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

The storm that hit Calgary on the weekend dumped as much as 25 centimetres of snow in some parts of the city, but it's the total accumulation that has really set this winter apart.  

Unlike in normal years, when a big snowfall often melts away a few days later in a chinook, the snow is sticking around this season, Environment Canada's snow depth figures reveal.

From Nov. 1 to March 4, Calgary had 101 days with at least one centimetre on the ground. Normally, there would be 85.6 days with at least one centimetre of snow in an entire year.

Calgary has already had 78 days with at least five centimetres of snow on the ground, already surpassing the normal 40.9 such days in a normal year.

And we've already had more than twice the normal number of days with 10 or more centimetres on the ground.

There have been 41 so far since the start of November, while the normal tally for a full year is 16.3 days.

This graph compares the current winter to a statistically normal year in Calgary in terms of the numbers of days with a given amount of snow on the ground. (CBC)

All this snow is keeping snow removal companies extremely busy.

But for Tyrone Fortner, who runs Burch Landscaping, that doesn't translate into more money — just more work — since his clients pay a monthly fee.

Fortner says he has had to hire extra staff, and spend more time clearing walks, driveways and parking lots over the past two months.

"Say each route is meant for two guys. Well, I need four guys to do the manpower, to shovel, hand shovel it, so I'm paying two extra guys. That's about 200 bucks per day per person on these snowfalls like this."

1,056 vehicles ticketed

The city declared a snow route parking ban on Sunday at 10 a.m., which will expire at 10 a.m. on Tuesday unless it gets lifted sooner.

As of noon on Monday, officials had issued 1,056 tickets to vehicles violating the parking ban. That's down from 1,334 tickets given out in the first 24 hours of the Feb. 5 parking  ban, and 1,176 issued in the day following the Feb. 10 parking ban.

Seven vehicles have been towed away from snow routes, according to Jennifer Whitaker, a spokesperson for the Calgary Parking Authority.

"The CPA will tow if it is confirmed that a vehicle is parked in a hazardous manner, is blocking a travel lane, or is inhibiting the safety of …snow clearing crews," she said in an email.

The city's snow and ice removal budget for this year is $38.8 million.

So far this winter, the city has spent about $16.9 million.

Last year's budget was $38.1 million, and the tally came to $41.5 million, meaning the city had to dip into its $15-million reserve fund.