National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Cold Front Dropping South Across the Western U.S.; Watching Threat for Tornadoes and Flooding in the South

A cold front will push south across the Western U.S. into Tuesday with mountain snow and areas of gusty to high winds. An area of low pressure will form along this front on Tuesday and bring a potential for severe thunderstorms with tornadoes and excessive rainfall in the lower to mid Mississippi River Valley. To the north, heavy snow is possible in parts of the upper Midwest. Read More >

Heavy Snow of 10-15" in Lake Adjacent Counties

 

A record-breaking snow storm occurred across much of the Midwest on February 8th-10th, 2010.  Snow began to overspread the area late in the evening on Monday, February 8th, and continued until the early morning hours on Wednesday, February 10th.  By the time the snow came to an end, snow totals across the area ranged from 3-5 inches across the southwestern portion of the forecast area, to over a foot in the counties near Lake Michigan, where the lake helped to influence snowfall rates Tuesday evening.  In addition to heavy snowfall, northwest winds gusted to between 25 and 35 miles per hour at times late Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, resulting in significant blowing and drifting snow.  

The 12.6" of snow that fell between 12:01 AM and 11:59 PM on February 8th at O'Hare International Airport shattered the old daily record of 8.9 inches that was set back in 1885.  The 12.6" of snow also becomes the highest single daily total in the month of February for Chicago since records started being kept. 

Below is a map of snow totals across the area.  The highest snow totals occurred close to Lake Michigan, where snow became lake enhanced Tuesday evening, resulting in snowfall rates of 1+" per hour at times.

 

Snow totals

 

Beach Park 14.0
Melrose Park 14.0
Northbrook 13.2
O'Hare 12.9
Park Ridge 1NNE 12.9
Gurnee 2W 12.5
La Grange 11.6
Chicago Botanic Gardens 11.0
Frankfort 11.0
Paxton 11.0
Willowbrook 11.0
Monee 10.8
Valparaiso 5NNE, IN 10.2
Oak Brook 10.1
Elk Grove Village 10.0
Midway 3SW 9.8
Mundelein 9.4
Highland, IN 9.0
Lake Zurich 9.0
Spring Grove 9.0
Wauconda 9.0
McHenry 8.3
Barrington 3SW 8.0
Naperville 8.0
Oregon 8.0
Wanatah, IN 8.0
Winfield 8.0
Streamwood 7.8
Lowell, IN 7.5
NWS Office  Romeoville 7.2
Peotone 7.2
Rockford 4NNW 7.0
RFD 6.9
St. Charles 7NW 6.8
Elgin 6.7
Paw Paw 6.5
Rensselaer, IN 6.2
Streator 6.0
Morris 5.7
Woodstock 5.5
DeKalb 5.4
Peru 5.3
Park Forest 5.2
Dwight 5.0
Joliet Lock/Dam 5.0
Marengo 5.0
Mendota 5.0
Ottawa 4SW 5.0
Plainfield 5.0
Coal City 4NNW 4.9
Marseilles 4.9
Batavia 4.8
Yorkville 2SE 4.8
Lake Village, IN 4.7
Remington, IN 4.6
Roscoe 4.5
Steward 4.5
Woodstock 5NW 4.5
Plano 4.3
Milford 5NW 4.2
Newark 2SSE 4.2
Bourbonnais 4.1
Kankakee 4.0
Rochelle 4.0
St. Anne 4.0
Herscher 3.7
Fairbury 3.6
Chatsworth 3.0
Watseka 3.0

 

The snow occurred in response to a strong upper level area of low pressure that dropped south from Canada over the previous weekend.  This Canadian low merged with a weaker trough moving east from the southern Rocky Mountains, with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico surging north ahead of this system.  The lift from this strong upper low combined with the Gulf moisture, resulting in a prolonged period of snow across the area. 

 

Water vapor image

 

In addition to the heavy snow, northwest winds increased Tuesday night and Wednesday morning as a deep surface low strengthened across Ohio.  These gusty northwest winds resulted in significant blowing and drifting snow across much of the area, making snow removal efforts very difficult Wednesday morning. 

 

Peak wind speeds