Blizzard of February, 2014

Our winter storm started on Thursday around noon with a quick batch of rain and sleet covering many roads, especially in northeast Iowa with a covering of ice. That rain & sleet quickly turned into snow with thundersnow occurring all throughout the viewing area. At times Thursday afternoon and evening snowfall rates reached 1 to 2 inches per hour. 7” fell at Rochester International Airport (the official climate station of SE Minnesota) in just 4 hours. By midnight, the majority of the snow had fallen with 5-11” falling across the viewing area, lining up nicely with our forecast.

Due to a nasty combination of sleet to start, followed by heavy snow rates and gusty winds, road conditions quickly became dangerous Thursday night. Many roads across southeast Minnesota were closed due to blowing and drifting snow.

Blizzard conditions were met all throughout the viewing area with widespread whiteout conditions.

Peak wind gusts were reached very early Friday morning with some gusts as high as 55 mph. These conditions caused a dangerous combination of blowing and drifting snow. This dangerous combination led to numerous power outages across the viewing area. Rochester public utilities had over 3,000 customers without power Thursday night. At one point Friday morning interstate 90 was closed for three hours, a stoppage that I was stuck in and you can view by clicking here.

Blowing and drifting snow continued to be a problem through Friday evening before the winds calmed down to more reasonable levels.

As of Saturday, road conditions are improving but still listed as difficult through much of the area. Some homes are going on 48 hours without power as line crews continue to work.

The return of arctic air won’t help the roads as it is difficult for road salt to occur at temperatures below 20º as detailed in a previous blog, but sunshine will do as much as it can. Temperatures reach bitterly cold levels during the upcoming week with no major warm-up in sight.

Justin Thompson-Gee
Storm Tracker 6 Meteorologist