Sunday, February 25, 2007

Blizzard pt. 2

Part two of the blizzard of '07 resulted in several more inches of snow last night and early this morning. It is always hard to get an accurate snowfall measurement during a blizzard due to the considerable blowing and drifting that occurs, but the textbook rule is to take three separate measurements and get the average. Doing this, I figure we got 10.5 inches during the second round of the storm. This, combined with the 7.5 inches from round one, plus the two inches of fluffy snow that accumulated this afternoon, results in a storm total of 20 inches. 20 inches! Definitely one of the most significant blizzards of all time for the area (although, admittedly, it would be more significant if there hadn't been such a long lull between the two precip episodes). Storm total accumulations generally ranged from one to two feet across the region, with a few isolated higher amounts. Winds have died off somewhat, but blowing and drifting is likely still a problem on the ridges. Some very light snow showers or flurries should persist through Monday, with little (if any) accumulation.

Now forecasters can turn their attention to the storm for later this week, which is looking more interesting all the time. Some of the models are indicating a more southerly track, which would result in more snow. The current forecast carries a chance for rain or snow, but the bottom line is that a significant amount of either would not be good. Heavy rain could lead to some serious melting issues, resulting in flooding problems, while another bout of significant snow would add to the existing snowpack and increase the threat of flooding in the future. Once again, it will be an interesting weather week.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Blizzard of '07

February certainly has been a month of extreme weather. First we had to deal with one of the longest-lasting cold snaps in recent years, and now we are in the midst of the area's first true blizzard in over a decade. Six to twelve inches of snow fell last night, and round two has now begun. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning earlier this evening as very strong winds (gusting to 40 miles per hour) are expected to create white-out conditions through at least tomorrow afternoon. It is snowing quite heavily in the valley right now. Visibility is quite low, but I'm sure it is much worse on the surrounding ridge tops. The sky has that distinctive orange-pink tinge it always has during heavy snow, and an occasional gust of wind really swirls the flakes around. There was some thundersnow reported around the region during last night's snow, which enhanced the snowfall rates. No thunder locally tonight yet, but I have read reports of cloud-to-ground lightning this evening in the Madison and Janesville areas (I am hoping this makes its way west to the Kickapoo Valley; last night was the first time I had ever heard thunder during a snowstorm, and I would like to experience more of this rare phenomenon!). I may post some pictures of the storm tomorrow, if I can figure out how to do it.

Side note: Another strong system looks to impact the area by Thursday. Could be more rain than snow, but I don't think many forecasters want to deal with this storm yet, as it has gotten very little mention in the area forecast discussions so far. One storm at a time...

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