The Groundhog Blizzard
Jeff Masters has the details on just how extreme the Blizzard was for Chicago:
The most extraordinary hourly observation I’ve ever seen in a U.S. winter storm came at 9:51pm on February 1 at Chicago’s Midway Field: A heavy thunderstorm with lightning, heavy snow, small hail or ice pellets, freezing fog, blowing snow, visibility 300 feet, a wind gust of 56 mph, and a temperature of 21°F. Welcome to the Midwest!
The image is a section of a photo of trees downed by the blizzard. More photos on the site.
Masters cites the Chicago National Weather Service office as recording 63 lightning strikes during the storm, which included this one of the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore startled by thunder: Cantore surprised by thunder snow
The powerful storm that struck Queensland is now officially the 2nd most costly disaster in Australian history. It did not displace Cyclone Tracy which hit Darwin in 1974; Yasi hit at low tide, which spared the coast a couple of meters of storm surge, and Yasi did not hit a major metropolitan region.
Details, including a great satellite image of the cyclone, here: Wunder Blog : Weather Underground