The Groundhog Day Blizzard Enters the Record Books

Jeff Masters:

The most remarkable feature of this storm was its sheer size. Twenty-two states received snows of five inches or more,and over 100 million Americans experienced snow or freezing rain. Antioch, Illinois recorded the most snow of any location in the U.S., 27 inches. Also hard-hit were Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, and Vermont, which all reported more than eighteen inches of snow. Seven states reported freezing rain that left 1/2” or more of ice accumulation, which resulted in power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

The strength of the high pressure system behind the Groundhog’s Day Blizzard of 2011 was also remarkable. Pressure readings in Montana at the height of the blizzard were well above 1050 mb, the type of high pressure only seen once every twenty years or so in the U.S. The difference in pressure between this high and the mighty blizzard drove a flood of cold air southwards out of Canada, creating the very high winds that shut down road travel over most of the Midwest during the height of the storm. The unusually strong push of cold air southwards has caused major problems in northern Texas, which is unused to multi-day periods of below-freezing temperatures. Many power plants were knocked off-line by the severe weather, and record electricity demand has overwhelmed the electrical system, resulting in widespread rotating blackouts. …

There there was Chicago…

Chicago’s third worst snowstorm on record is history, leaving in its wake a remarkable 20.2” of snow, snowdrifts up to ten feet high, and frigid below zero temperatures. Only the January 2 – 4 1999 blizzard (21.6″) and January 2 – 4, 1967 blizzard (23”) dumped more snow on Chicago. The Groundhog’s Day blizzard of 2011 had stronger winds than either of Chicago’s other two record snowstorms, and thus was probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect the city

Wunder Blog : Weather Underground

 

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