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A series of warm, moisture-laden storms charged into western Montana last week, bringing a white wave that left skiers rejoicing and shovelers cursing. The storm was the biggest so far this year, and one of the biggest on record. The National Weather Service called it "extraordinary," noting that the 15.7 inches of snow that fell from Jan. 17-19 marks the seventh deepest dump since records were first kept in 1893. (The record, 41.1 inches of snow over Christmas in 1996, was unthreatened.)

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Totals were greater high in the mountains. Lost Trail/Powder Mountain recorded 50 inches in 48 hours, and Montana Snowbowl claimed almost as much in just a few days more. The owners of Yurtski reported snow falling at three inches per hour in the Swan Range.

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Snow shovelers, owners of flat-roofed homes and drivers of low-clearance vehicles had a less enjoyable week as temperatures rose, rain fell and the light and fluffy powder morphed into heavy sludge.

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And it probably isn't over. NASA reported last week that "La Niña, 'the diva of drought,' is peaking, increasing the odds [of] stormy weather this winter and spring."

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