Blizzard & Cold Roundup

Since Sunday we have dealt with wind gusts that would qualify as a severe thunderstorm, multiple hours of white out conditions and wind chills where frost bite develops in 5 minutes. So, let’s start from the beginning.

Saturday night into Sunday we had a quick hit of 2-4” of snow coming down at 1” per hour rates for two to three hours.

Although driving conditions were terrible late Saturday, the wind stayed calm so it wasn’t too bad at least when compared to Sunday afternoon.

Whiteout conditions in West Concord taken by Deborah A.

Mountaineous snow drifts taken by Shirley T.

Wind gusts on Sunday reached as high as 62 mph!

But, did we technically experience a blizzard? Maybe. The criteria for a blizzard are as follows: sustained winds or frequent gusts of at least 35 mph and visibility reduced to ¼ mile or below for three consecutive hours. Numerous stations had visibility 1/4 mile or less, the confusion comes from the wind speed/gusts. No station had 3 hours of sustained wind speeds at 35 mph, but gusts definitely stayed above 35 mph. After consulting with the National Weather Service, we are defining Sunday's event as a blizzard.

Wind that strong meant one thing: the return of arctic air. A very strong area of high pressure pushed southward from Canada arriving Monday morning. Air temperatures bottomed out in the teens below-zero which would have been a big deal had we not just experienced similar cold levels earlier this month.

If you are one of those people who says “well if it is going to be this cold, we might as well break some records”, we did actually break a record and tie another. Mason City reached a high temperature Monday of -5º tying the record low maximum set in 1972. The official high temperature in Rochester was -6º on Monday breaking the previous minimum high temperature of -5º set in 1966.

Although winds backed down Monday morning it was still enough to produce some very dangerous wind chills. Dexter, MN reported the coldest wind chill in our area of -46º.

On Tuesday similar conditions can be expected: temperatures will be just a few degrees colder, wind will be a lighter so wind chills to -40º will occur.

Justin Thompson-Gee
Storm Tracker 6 Meteorologist


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