Potentially life-threatening blizzard


Hmm, what are the odds it snows at all? Last time the media and the NWS freaked out about a snow storm hitting the Chicagoland area, we got about an inch of snow where I live. So keep that salt handy (cum grano salis.)1

The National Weather Service has issued an unusually dire blizzard watch, calling a storm expected to arrive Tuesday afternoon over much of northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana “dangerous, multifaceted and potentially life-threatening.”

All told, forecasters expect at least a foot of snow over much of the watch area. White-out conditions are expected at times Tuesday night, with snowfall rates of at least 2 to 3 inches per hour possible with northeast winds of 25 to 40 mph and even stronger gusts.

Localized totals in excess of 18 inches are possible, especially near the lake.

Conditions are expected to deteriorate from north to south across the region Tuesday afternoon with travel becoming “virtually impossible” at times Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, according to the weather service. Plows will be unable to keep up with the downfall.

“The last storm of this potential magnitude to hit Chicago was in Jan. 2, 1999,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist at the weather service. That day, he said, 18.6 inches of accumulation were measured in the city.

The all-time Chicago record was set on Jan. 26 and 27, 1967, when 23 inches of snow fell on the city, Castro added.

(click here to continue reading Forecast: ‘Potentially life-threatening’ blizzard – chicagotribune.com.)

Not In My Backyard Syndrome

A major blizzard the National Weather Service is calling “life-threatening” is on its way to the Chicago area, also bringing along strong winds that could send 18-foot Lake Michigan waves onto Lake Shore Drive Tuesday night into early Wednesday.

The blizzard watch remains in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon in several counties, including Kane, DuPage, Cook, Lake, McHenry and DeKalb. The watch is also in effect for Porter, Lake, Newton, Jasper and Benton counties in Indiana, the National Weather Service said.

The snow will begin to come in from the Southwest about noon Tuesday, with the heaviest snowfall expected to hit the Chicago area in the evening into overnight, National Weather Service meteorologist Samuel Shea said.

“The heaviest snowfall will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on Wednesday and that will be a combination of snow and strong winds that will create potential hazards,” Shea said.

The National Weather Service is calling the pending blizzard life-threatening.

“You figure if you are out traveling and you do end up going off the road, having to be rescued and you aren’t prepared for the conditions, things could be life-threatening,” Shea said.

As of Monday morning, satellite images showed an 85 percent chance of at least 8 inches of snow heading into the Chicago area and a 65 to 70 percent chance of it becoming more than 12 inches, Shea said. Totals of 18 inches are possible near Lake Michigan.

“It could very easily be measured in feet,” he said.


(click here to continue reading ‘Life-threatening’ blizzard on its way to Chicago area – Chicago Sun-Times.)

As much of its strength, the system’s immense size sets it apart. As of Monday evening, the National Weather Service had posted winter storm warnings, watches or advisories in at least 29 states in a 2,000-mile space stretching from the Southwest to the Northeast. “A storm of this size and scope needs to be taken seriously,” said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The worst conditions are expected in parts of seven states where blizzard warnings were in effect Monday night. The Monday night forecast of fierce winds, strong snow and minimal visibility covered an area as far south and west as Oklahoma, as far north as Wisconsin and as far as east as Indiana. Several inches linked to the system had fallen by 7 p.m. Monday in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a winter storm warning extended throughout the state. A similar warning was in effect as far away as Boston, where snow could start Tuesday and continue through Wednesday night.

Still, some of the biggest concerns entering Tuesday were in cities like Chicago.

“This storm could be one of the top 10 biggest snowstorms ever in the city,” said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. According to the National Weather Service, snowstorms that drop over 15 inches of snow occur about once every 19 years in Chicago. The last time this happened was in January 1999, when 21.6 inches of snow was recorded in the city. Officials have added 120 garbage trucks with specially attached snow plows to the city’s fleet normal of 274 trucks in expectation of heavy snowfall, said Jose A. Santiago, executive director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management. Snowfall could reach a rate of two and three inches per hour with northeasterly winds of 25 mph to 40 mph, creating dangerous “white-out” conditions across the entire Chicago metropolitan area, the weather service reported.

(click here to continue reading Massive winter system spans 2,000 miles, threatens Midwest cities – CNN.com.)

  1. translated usually as “with a grain of salt”. History from Wikipedia: The phrase comes from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia, regarding the discovery of a recipe for an antidote to a poison. In the antidote, one of the ingredients was a grain of salt. Threats involving the poison were thus to be taken “with a grain of salt” and therefore less seriously. An alternative account says that the Roman general Pompey believed he could make himself immune to poison by ingesting small amounts of various poisons, and he took this treatment with a grain of salt to help him swallow the poison. In this version, the salt is not the antidote, it was taken merely to assist in swallowing the poison. []

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