A third of the country cleans up from the Great Groundhog’s Day Blizzard of 2011

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

The brunt of the powerful storm system that blazed a path through the heart of the country yesterday and last night has pushed into Eastern Canada and out to sea. However it leaves behind much colder air and is still producing snow showers and plenty of wind in the Northeast and Ohio Valley this afternoon. Now, many start the process of cleaning up after this impressive storm.

Chicago was one of the hardest hit receiving 20.2” of snow at O’Hare Airport making this the third biggest snow producing snow storm in that cities' history. Not only was the snow a huge issue, but the winds were unrelenting creating drifts as much as 8 feet high. The top snow producing winter storms in Chicago back in 1967(#1) and 1999(#2) had higher snowfall amounts by only just a couple inches but winds were nothing like this. Winds last night peaked at sustained speeds of near 40 mph and many gusts around the area were between 60-70 mph. This led to many people having to abandon their cars and the fire departments across the city having to use snowmobiles to respond to emergency calls.

In Milwaukee the snowfall totals varied between 8-10” on the north side of the town to over a foot of snow in downtown and finally places like Racine picking up more than 20 inches of snow. Here are a few other snowfall totals from across the country:

20.0” Miami, OK
18.3” Jefferson City, MO
15.0” Tulsa, OK
10.2” Boston
7.50” Detroit, MI
6.00” Abilene, TX

The other side to this storm was the freezing rain and ice storm conditions it produced for cities like Indianapolis, Columbus, and even New York City. A half an inch of ice accumulated in Indianapolis yesterday created thousands of power outages. Thousands of people throughout the country including in Chicago and many other areas are still without power this afternoon.

The final side to this colossal storm was the heavy rain and severe weather it produced in the south. One tornado was reported in Texas but several dozen severe wind reports dotted the Deep South from Texas to Mississippi.

Now that the storm is over it has been replaced by much colder air. Last night temperatures in the Great Plains got all the way down to near 30 degrees below zero with wind chills around -50 degrees. Look for temperatures to warm up for everyone as we approach the weekend, but another arctic blast looks poised to invade early next week.

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  • by Tyler Roney Location: Ames, IA on Feb 2, 2011 at 01:51 PM
    I would just like to say that this is a very well written article. It was very thought out in the sense that it affected so much of the country -- as a matter of fact, hundreds of millions of people! A great read for anyone who just loves this time of year by not only a great meteorologist but a great author as well!!
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