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Missoula chalked up a daily snowfall record with 8.6 inches of fluff, more than the 8 inches recorded in one day in 1917, according to the National Weather Service.

"That one goes back a long time," said meteorologist Leeann Allegretto on Tuesday morning.

But Allegretto, who was still wading through weather reports, said the "big winners" were in the Bitterroot: Stevensville saw 26 inches, Hamilton 25 inches, Lolo 24 inches, Florence 23 inches, and Victor 18 inches.

The dump was enough to close public and private schools throughout Missoula and Ravalli counties on Tuesday. The University of Montana held class as usual, but the U.S. Forest Service Regional Headquarters at Fort Missoula closed for the day. Forest Service spokesman David Smith said all planned meetings and training sessions were canceled for Tuesday.

The snow slicked up roads, and Montana Highway Patrol Sgt. Shawn Smalley said law enforcement responded to many calls in Mineral and Missoula counties Monday night.

"If people would just slow down a lot and give room for the plows, wear their seat belt — and really slow down — that's what we need," Smalley said. 

The pile of snow in Stevensville is a near-record total for three days, Allegretto said. Stevi isn't an official reporting site so she said the Weather Service counts only the years for which it has records.

The big dump canceled schools Tuesday throughout the Bitterroot and in all the Missoula County Public Schools. It also helped push up the snowpack in mountain ranges. In the Missoula and Bitterroot basins, the snowpack is 103 percent of normal, she said.

"(Almost) everybody is above normal. That's the good part," Allegretto said.

She said the exception is the Kootenai and Cabinet Mountain regions, which sit at 86 percent.

"They keep missing these big snow events, unfortunately," Allegretto said.

Elsewhere in the region, Montanans were shoveling too, albeit less than their neighbors in the Bitterroot.

Butte received 12 inches of snow, Seeley Lake counted 9 inches, and Philipsburg and Anaconda received anywhere from 8 to 10 inches, Allegretto said.

Within the last 36 hours, she said the snow didn't start coming down north of Interstate 90 until later. Kalispell measured 4 inches and Thompson Falls 7 inches.

Keep the sleds ready for more flakes later this week.

"We are expecting snow to start (Wednesday) morning and last through the day, but we honestly haven't even had a chance to look because we've been engulfed," Allegretto said.

On the other hand, she said the accumulation will hardly be noticeable compared to the current crush of precipitation.

"What is two to four inches on top of 26? It's just insult to injury at this point," Allegretto said.

But she said the good news these wintry days is that warm weather is not on the near horizon, so flooding isn't imminent.

Reporter Rob Chaney contributed to this story.

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