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Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011

Many of you may remember the nightmare blizzard that impacted much of the Midwest back in early 2011 that shut down the entire nation’s mid-section. Starting on January 31, 2011, a nightmare would begin to invade much of the country.

On January 30, 2011, winter storm watches began to be posted for much of the country in advance of the storm the next day. By January 31st, cold arctic air began rushing into the northern part of the United States from Canada along with Gulf moisture streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico. These would both go on to collide to create messy weather across much of the country. Late on January 31st, snow and ice began to impact portions of the Midwest including Indiana as precipitation began to enter the area.

Map indicating ice threat for February 1st and 2nd, 2011. (Source: Dallas Morning News/The Weather Channel)

Impacts on Chicago
In Chicago, snow began to fall heavily in the area and by that night up to 20 inches of snow had fallen putting traffic at a standstill for the Windy City. Eventually, cars had to be abandoned due to the severity of the storm. Unfortunately, 7 people were killed as a result of the storm in Chicago. Snowfall in Chicago ended up topping out at around 22 inches once the storm had moved away from the area. Chicagoans nicknamed the blizzard “Snowmageddon”.

View of the snow that fell in Chicago during the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard storm. (Source: WBEZ)

What about Indiana?
Down south, freezing rain was a concern especially in Indiana. During the evening on the 31st and into the morning of February 1st, periods of freezing rain and snow for much of the area. This was followed by another more significant round of ice and freezing rain later in the day on the 1st bringing the total accumulation for freezing rain up to 1 inch with an additional 0.6 inches falling as ice. Snowfall amounts of 1 foot and more were reported in northern Indiana where they didn’t see much of the way of ice. As a result of the storm, 50,000 people were without power in the Hoosier State for up to several days after the storm moved through.

Ice accumulation on trees during the 2011 Groundhog Day Storm. (Source:

The Rest of the Country
The storm ended up impacting areas from as far west as New Mexico to as far east as New England. This equated to 1/3 of Americans being affected by the storm. Snowfall amounts of 5 inches were reported in each state from as far west as New Mexico to as far east as New Hampshire.

The 2011 Groundhog Day snowstorm viewed from satellite during its peak in early February. (Source: Wikipedia)


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