Thunder Snow in Chicago – First Storms of 2014

Feb 17, 2014

Well, today the first official thunderstorms for 2014 in Chicago go into the books. As I’ve done in the past, here is a blog of the event.

This year, like 2011 and 2010 it came in the form of thunder-SNOW, instead of the thunderstorms we’re typically used to seeing in spring. The Chicago area seems to be a mecca for thundersnow. I’ve tracked many snow events on radar over the past years, and have observed it in this part of the country more often than others. Runners up would be the dakotas, and along the northeast coast during nor’easters.

The event was not a surprise. Thunder-snow chances were about as good as they get as a potent mid level wave slid south of the area bringing in rapid height falls and very steep lapse rates. In fact, the SPC issued THIS MD about the potential. The snow came down fast, with rates nearing 3 inches an hour. I shoveled the snow, and 20 minutes later there was even more snow than before.  While helping someone get their car unstuck is when the thunder-snow was experienced. A flash caught the corner of my eye followed by a long, dull rumble. Its always a neat thing to experience.

We’re having a pretty extroadinary winter around here. I believe as of now we are near 73 inches of snow for the season. I get conflicting information when I search for the records but I believe it is 89″ – so we are chasing that record. Its conceivable we will hit it as the pattern looks to remain active, but the clock is ticking as we head into Februarys last 10 days. I’ve seen many a March go by without snow, but last year March was our snowiest month so anything is possible.

Either way, it is by far the most snow I’ve seen living here. The piles of it outside are like mini mountains. Its kind of neat, normally I despise winter, but at least this one has been extreme enough to be interesting and keep me busy.

Here are some radar grabs and pictures from the event:

Sadly I did not capture the event on video camera. For as long as I’ve been documenting weather and as many times as I’ve witnessed thundersnow here in Chicago, its always when I am outside WITHOUT my camera in hand. Someday I’ll get it, for I wont be eluded forever!

In a couple days we have another major system to impact the area. GFS has a low bombing from 994mb to 960 as it passed just to our west. This one could be fun…

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