Historic Blizzard Buries Area

***Watch WISN 12 all day for the latest on the blizzard!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog. Through the years only a handful of weather events can be considered ‘historic’. Without question the blizzard that continues across the area will fall into this category.

Measuring snow is almost impossible with winds this strong. But here are a few snow totals from last night’s blizzard.


  • Racine: 23.5″
  • Kenosha: 23.2″
  • Pell Lake: 19″
  • Glendale: 17″
  • Cedarburg: 16″
  • East Troy: 15″
  • Mukwonago: 11″
  • Ripon: 8.3″

Measuring the snow was next to impossible. Huge drifts to 7 or 8 feet in rural areas. Thank you to everyone who shared their total.

The blizzard moves out, the cold moves in. We have a wind chill advisory until 10am Thursday. Temperatures will likely fall just below zero tonight and wind chills could drop to -25.

In my 14 years at WISN-12 last night’s storm was the worst snowstorm I have ever seen. The January 1999 blizzard was close, but the snow last night was heavier and the strong winds lasted longer. Stay safe.


We are still tracking some lake effect snow bands, for the latest live radar image, just click below!


The combination of heavy snow and very strong winds has produced life threatening conditions for anyone trying to travel in southeast Wisconsin. The following message was sent by the NWS after midnight.




1241 AM CST WED FEB 2 2011






Needless to say, please do not travel Wednesday morning unless it is an emergency!

The one thing that makes this storm unique is the strong winds. With gusts over 35 mph and visibilities under a quarter mile for 3 hours straight has classified this as a blizzard! Below are peak wind gusts from Tuesday Night.

  • Milwaukee 60 mph
  • Racine 55 mph
  • Kenosha 54 mph
  • Sheboygan 51 mph
  • Fond du Lac 43 mph

Below is a surface map from around 6am. This shows the snow in our area. But the real focus on is the very cold temperatures to the northwest. Some areas are -10 to -20 degrees! Just click on the map to enlarge.

Surface Map Wednesday

The frigid weather will continue to slowly push into our area. As the snow wraps up, the cold will settle in and wind chills will be above and below zero across the area.

Now let’s take a look at a few pictures from around the area.

Tuesday night the blizzard hit Milwaukee with force. Christine Franks sent this picture near UWM.

UWM Snow

The picture below is from just outside our studios at 19th and Wells in Milwaukee. I ventured waist deep into this drift to drop our make shift ‘drift stick’ which measured almost 3 feet!

Snow Drift Milwaukee

The picture above gives you a good idea of just how high drifts of 10 feet would be! Those are the type of massive drifts that have occurred in some rural areas.

If you can safely take pictures we would love to see them! Please post them to the U-Local section of WISN.com Just click below.


One piece of good news today…Punxsatawney Phil DID NOT see his shadow. That means Spring is right around the corner. That corner looks like it is a long way off!

Look for updates all day on WISN 12 and also right here in the Weather Watch 12 blog!

Stay warm and safe today!

Jeremy Nelson


24 Responses

  1. I can’t tell how much snow we have, but we have snow drifts that are over 4′!

    What’s the best way to take a measurement with a blizzard like this?

    • Chris,

      To be honest…’guesstimate’


  2. Hmmm…maybe I’ll be more carefull what I wish for next time! Snow is covering much of my driveway from snowbank to snowbank which is easily 3′-4′ high. Anyone have a backhoe I can borrow?! At least I thought ahead to park the cars right at the ends of the driveway to minimize the amount of snow I will have to remove to at least get out later when/if a plow comes through later.

    Dave in Bayview

    • If you find a backhoe, please send one down to Walworth County! The snow drifts are unbelievable. Not looking forward to when the plow comes through- I think reality may set in then!

    • Ha! Not goin anywhere today! 3 hours with the neighbors blower to clear the driveway but no snow plows in sight yet.

  3. Thank you for the update on Punxsatawney Phil and his shadow! Happy Groundhog’s Day! 🙂 We’ll never forget this one, that’s for sure!

    • Groundhog Day blizzard will be etched in our memories forever.


  4. Chris, take multiple measurements around the perimeter of your observation area. I usually go for nine of them. That’s how I do it during windy snow events. The snow just doesn’t stay on the single snow board.

    #wxreport 24hr obs. 0.32″ / 2.6″ / 13″, 2-Day total 4.8″, More info click links, http://tiny.cc/rc201102 http://tiny.cc/mp0202 #wiwx

    Jeremy, I won the bet! Ha. My first ‘serious’ prediction amongst friends using the LRC. Oshkosh School District is closed today. Some argue that the prediction was 5 days off. Bet was made over xmas. All I can say is, “follow along for a year”… 🙂

    Nice work everyone. It’s been an enjoyable run reading all these blog entries and comments! Good luck on the clean up down there.

    • Josh,

      My prediction was on the money, until I tried to over analyze:) Looking forward to March already!


  5. To measure here, I took three measurements. One in the area of my yard with the least amount of snow, the highest drift, and somewhere in-between, then averaged it out

  6. Wednesday, February 2, 2011 8:15 am

    Morning Jeremy!

    Quite a ‘landscape’ to wake up to! Got drifts all over the place! Presently have moderate snow falling with a bit of wind from the north. As for total snowfall, ??? For the time being anyway I’d have to say at least 15″. As much as I’d like to say 20+ inches, I think that would be stretching it a bit. If I feel I’ve come up with a more precise number later, I’ll pass it along.

    On a personal note: Great job of forecasting and blog posts! I’m very appreciative of your time and efforts!

    Tony (Pleasant Prairie)

    • Tony,

      Thanks for all your updates! We love keeping everyone informed here on the blog.


  7. http://weather-scout.blogspot.com/2011/02/final-blizzard-report.html

    Above is the link to my blog post about the blizzard. There are several pictures.

    The Monday-Wednesday total was 18-21″ of snow. The snow drifts were more than 4′ in spots.

  8. Wednesday, February 2, 2011 9:53 am

    Hi again Jeremy!

    In anticipation of this event, I took a bunch of ‘before’ pictures a few days ago. I’m in the process of taking the ‘after’ pictures. By using scaling and measurements from the two, I think I can come up with a pretty good number for the amount of snowfall for my location. I will be making the results available to you. Since some of the objects have considerable snow between me and them, it might be awhile! Also, no significant wind damage to report from here.

    Tony (Pleasant Prairie)

  9. 8.5 inches from round 1
    13.5 inches from round 2
    3-4 foot drifts
    Pretty close to the more aggressive RPM model that was posted in the blog from Sunday/Monday (24.8 inches).
    Definitely a storm I’ll never forget!

  10. great job in forcasting this snow event ! you guys hit it right on the head. beaver dam/ juneau airport is reporting about 12″ last night with a three day storm total at 18 inches.

  11. Signature storm indeed. While the city of Milwaukee missed out earlier in the season, this certainly makes up for it. The LRC never ceases to amaze me, excited to see what round three of the signature storm brings in March….just don’t mess with Opening Day please.

    • It’s going to be round 4. Round one was the record setting low pressure / wind storm of late October.

  12. It nice to finally see some snow of this size around here again!! This is the storm I have been waiting for! I’ve been hearing that another storm is due early next week…. is there any truth to that jeremy?

  13. Snow total for East Troy
    Last night: 15inches
    Monday-Tuesday: 6inches
    Giving us a grand total of 21 inches for the entire storm! I think we have about 27 inches of snow on the ground total from what was there before the 2 rounds of snow came it. Will be fun showing my 2 year old the pictures from this when she’s older!

  14. Hi, WW 12 Team!! 🙂

    Here in Reeseville — Dodge County — I had a 16.5″ drift in front of our garage — a two foot {at least} drift in front of our kitchen porch — and a good five foot drift all along the entire length of our church next door. I spent three hours doing removal work this morning — with snowblower! In addition to the drifts, I also measured spots in my driveway that were three inches and six inches and everything inbetween. Some spots were blown down to bare, dry pavement. Not sure how many “actual” inches this translates into.

    I think the biggest story out here was the wind – it really howled all night long. I know we had some really heavy snow and severly reduced visibility between about 6 p.m. Tuesday and at least 2:30 a.m. today. By six a.m. today, thesnow had stopped and the winds were much less. Right now {2:30 p.m.} it’s sunny and very light winds.

    Our roads in the village are in good shape — but it’s getting from here to anywhere else that’s the trick. Dodge County Sherriff’s Department reporting numerous vehicles in ditches between Beaver Dam and Waupun. Also, on Highway 33 between Horicon and Beaver Dam, there were vehicles — even plows! — not just off the roads but literally in the farm fields. They deputies were saying that it looked like people literally could not tell where they were. They are saying not to plan to go anywhere until Friday.

    Jeremy and Mark — a great job on all the updates on the blogs and on TV! Your coverage has been nothing less than tremendous! It’s been a blast reading all of this and thanks for letting me be a part of the reports and the learning! Next time I start whining to you about losing faith in the LRC and the ‘signature storm,” just remind me about this round!!!

    This is our second blizzard this winter — both out of the signature storms. I’m reminded of the blizzard of 1967 in Chicago area where I grew up. March’s go around will be just as interesting, I’m sure.

    What’s up next? I know your LRC long range called for a stormy pattern the week of the 14TH?

    Take care. I’ll keep in touch!

    Thanks again!

    Your friend,


  15. Don–

    You are lucky to have been able to receive snow on both of the “signature” storms. Some of us were plagued with rain. 😉

  16. Sheboygans missed out twice. December storm started as rain, this storm went toofar south . Oh well. Looking forward to march and hoping for snow! Or maybe I’ll be sick of it by then….. We’ ll see!!

  17. Jeremy and Mark,

    I want to echo the praise others have given you on forecasting this storm. I live out in Madison (I know its not technically your viewing area) but have been following the models and predictions on this blog and they were accurate for my area, even the preliminary predictions you put out on Sunday afternoon. Even more impressive, you guys were mentioning a big storm far before anybody else, including the NWS. As a snow lover, the last-minute NW bump in this storm made myself and many other snow lovers out here very happy.

    You have made me a believer in the LRC through this storm and others and it’s a very exciting way to predict and track weather in the winter.

    Can’t wait to see what the rest of winter brings– lets build on this great snow pack!

    Tom in Madison

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