Record Setting Snowstorm!
This has been a storm for the record books and with records going back to 1900 for snowfall, the blizzard of 2011 will go down as setting all kinds of winter weather records. Perhaps the most significant is the 14" of total accumulation which easily exceeds the previous record of 12.9". That much snow left behind will stick around for quite awhile as very cold arctic air is draining down behind the exiting snow storm and we will likely be threatening some record low temperatures as well.
Gusty NW winds of 10-20 mph or more through Wednesday will also blow around the snow that is on the ground making it difficult to keep roads clear. Since this was a very dry snow with a snow/liquid ratio on the order of 15/1, there will continue to be some drifting of the snow making travel very difficult. Those winds will also keep wind chill values in the very dangerous below zero category.
Our skies have cleared for the night, but a secondary system will likely maintain partly cloudy to at times mostly cloudy skies for Wednesday. Together with the winds, that will keep our daytime temperatures at or below record levels for coldest daytime highs also.
By Wednesday night we should have clear skies and light winds which would produce the first ‘official' below zero temperatures since this same time in 1996. However, the 1996 event was followed by a rapid warm-up and rapid melting of the 5" of snow that fell back then. This time around, the very cold air will be slow to moderate and temperatures are not expected to be above freezing until the weekend. And that will not last long as another blast of cold air looks to be headed our way for the beginning of the following week. That system will also have the potential to produce another round of wintry precipitation. Way too early to get too excited about that particular system, but the bottom line is that with more cold air coming our way, the current snow on the ground will be around for quite awhile.
As always, stay tuned and check back for updates.