National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The Leap Year Winter Storm of 2012

Last updated 3/1/12 

A strong winter storm produced a large area of heavy, wet snow across parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota on February 28-29, 2012.  A widespread snowfall of 8 to 16 inches, with locally higher amounts along with frequent wind gusts over 30 mph, affected much of north-central and far northeast Wisconsin.  Snow fell at two to three inches per hour in the heaviest bands!  Less snow fell in central and east-central Wisconsin as milder air surged north ahead of the storm system.  Click here for a snowfall map (amounts through 9 am) from storm spotters across the region.

The wet snow and strong winds caused power outages to as many as 14,000 homes and businesses at the height of the storm.  In addition, some roads in northern Wisconsin were nearly impassable for a period of time during the heaviest snowfall.

The snow developed as low pressure moved from Colorado to Wisconsin.  Copious amounts of moisture moved into the region from the Gulf of Mexico.  The storm system also produced killer tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from Kansas into Kentucky.


Snowfall (thru 7 am 2/29/12) and Wind Gusts (Click images for larger view):

Snowfall map - Click for larger view. Wind gust map - Click for larger view


Satellite, Radar, and Weather Maps (Large files--may take a moment to load.  Click images for larger view):

Satellite loop - Click for larger view.
U.S. satellite animation showing the storm's development and movement, Feb 28-29.
Satellite loop - Click for larger view.
U.S. surface pressure chart and winds, Feb 28-29.

Surface pressure chart - Click for larger view.
Radar animation showing the movement of the precipitation across the Midwest.

Radar animation - Click for larger view.
NWS Green Bay radar animation from midnight to 6 am on Feb 29.


Photos from North-Central Wisconsin (Click images for larger view):

Crandon snow - Click for larger view.
18" of snow fell in Crandon.  Photo courtesy WSAW-TV.
Minocqua snow - Click for larger view.
20" was reported in Minocqua.  Photo courtesy WSAW-TV.