SNOWMAGEDON! Febuary 2011 Blizzard Overview

by on Feb.04, 2011, under News, Storms


Computer models began to latch onto the idea of a major snowstorm about a week in advance, although there was significant differences as to the exact placement.  The models began to converge in their solutions by the weekend of January 29-30, and suggested snowfall in excess of a foot over a large area.  The critical item was determining the exact track of the low, as this would dictate which areas received excessive snowfall, and which areas would see a risk of significant amounts of freezing rain.  By Sunday morning (January 30), winter storm watches were issued over a large part of the Midwest.  In central Illinois, the heavy snow focus was along and west of I-55, while east central Illinois would likely see a mixture of freezing rain, sleet, and snow, keeping overall snow accumulations lower.  Ice accumulations of a quarter to 3/4 inch were forecast for southeast Illinois, along and south of I-70.

Blizzard warnings were issued in central Illinois, mainly along and west of I-55, by early Monday afternoon, a good 18 to 24 hours before the storm began.  Winter storm warnings were issued across east central and southeast Illinois.  These warnings were in effect from early Tuesday morning through midday Wednesday.

Central and Southeast Illinois Impacts:

Snowfall totals of a foot or more were widespread from the I-55 corridor westward into Missouri and Iowa.  Near and west of the Illinois River, totals of 15 to 20 inches were common.  The bulk of the snow fell over a period from mid morning Tuesday (February 1) to early morning Wednesday (February 2).  During the height of the storm Tuesday evening, several thunderstorms were reported, which heightened the snow accumulation even further.  In Peoria, the snow was falling at the rate of 2 to 3 inches in an hour late Tuesday evening due to the thunderstorms.

Northeast winds gusted from 45 to 60 mph across much of central Illinois Tuesday afternoon and evening.  As the parent low pressure moved northeast toward west central Indiana late in the evening, the winds shifted around to the northwest, and gusted from 35 to 50 mph the remainder of the night.  Gusts of 35 to 45 mph or higher continued into midday Wednesday.  These winds caused near zero visibility due to blowing snow.  Snowplows had great difficulty keeping up as the roads would drift shut as soon as they were cleared, and in some cases plowing crews were called off the roads Tuesday night until the worst had passed.  Road closures included I-74 between Galesburg and Peoria, all of I-155, and I-39 between Bloomington and Rockford.

Reported Peak Wind Gusts:

  • Roanoke, Emergency Operations Center — 64 mph
  • Tremont, Emergency Operations Center — 56 mph
  • Lincoln, Logan County Airport — 53 mph
  • Rantoul National Aviation Center — 52 mph
  • Peoria International Airport — 52 mph
  • Decatur Airport — 51 mph
  • Galesburg Municipal Airport — 51 mph
  • Bloomington, Central Illinois Regional Airport — 50 mph
  • Springfield, Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport — 48 mph
  • Jacksonville Municipal Airport — 46 mph

Above Overview Written by NWS ILX

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