The Biggest Snowflake In The World Came From Montana
They say everything is bigger in Texas, but not when it comes to snowflakes. Montana takes claim to the biggest snowflake ever reported. The 136-year-old record stands in the Guinness Book of World Records, where a frozen moisture flake of enormous proportions was recorded two years before we became a state.
The year was 1887.
Winter in Montana can vary from somewhat tolerable to downright miserable. Some years we get heavy snowfall, others are relatively dry. Last year was somewhat mild for much of the state, but we can all recount those frigid winters when it stays below zero for what seems like weeks. The winter of 1887 must have been a brutal one in eastern Montana because that year a rancher near Keogh discovered the humungous, 15-inch snowflake.
Keogh is on the outskirts of Miles City, and it's not a town. It was founded by the Army as Fort Keogh after Custer and his boys got their butts handed to them at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The fort project was led by General Nelson A. Miles, the same guy that Miles Avenue in Billings is named after and obviously, Miles City.
It's now a USDA research center.
By the early 1920s, the fort was no longer needed for military purposes and in 1924 Congress transferred the 64,000-acre parcel (now at 55,000 acres) to the US Department of Agriculture, where it has been used for livestock testing and ag research. The history of Fort Keogh and what they do is quite interesting. You can learn more HERE.
Let's get back to that giant snowflake.
A regulation basketball measures about 9.5 inches across. The world record snowflake was reportedly 15 inches across. It was about 8 inches thick too, not flat like the kind of snowflakes you cut out of paper in grade school. Sadly, cameras were a bit of a rarity in 1887 and there are no known photos of the record-holding snowflake.
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Gallery Credit: Karolyi