Thundersnow & Near Zero Visibility

***Watch WISN 12 for live updates on the blizzard!***

A huge thank you to everyone who has posted snow totals and storm reports during this blizzard that many will be talking about for years to come!

Around 11pm Tuesday evening, thundersnow was reported in much of the metro area.  I stepped outside right after our hour long 10pm newscast to see a flash of lightning and a loud rumble of thunder.  Awesome!  Thundersnow does not occur often in our area, but when it does snowfall rates can reach 3″+ per hour!

Shortly after midnight a band of very heavy snow, with embedded thundersnow was pushing through.  Below is a look at the radar from 12:22 am. 

Thundersnow Just After Midnight  

For the latest radar image just click on our interactive radar link below!

The heavy snow was being combined with winds of 40-53mph across southeastern Wisconsin.  This was creating very nasty blizzard conditions. 

The main surface low associated with this storm system ended up taking a very favorable track for heavy snow in our area.  Below was the actual low position at midnight…over Indiana.

Surface Low At Midnight

The black lines are isobars, the closer they are packed together, the higher the wind speeds.  That certainly has been the case with winds over 50mph reported Tuesday evening.

The steady snow will wrap up by 6am in most areas, but lake-effect snow showers will continue in areas favored by a north to northeast wind.  Below is the RPM forecast at 9am Wednesday.  By this time most of the accumulating snow will end for inland areas.

RPM 9am Wednesday

The blizzard warnings continue until Noon, but most areas will see the snow end before noon.  Winds will stay in the 15-25mph range.

I know measuring snow during or after a blizzard is very tough, but if you have a snowfall total or estimate please post it to the comments section of the blog or on Facebook at WeatherWatch 12!

When almost all schools off on Wednesday, send any pictures or videos our way.  You can post them to the U-Local section of!

Stay safe and if you don’t have to travel early Wednesday, please stay at home!

Jeremy Nelson


8 Responses

  1. Just stepped outside in West Allis. Hard to get out though because the drifts are about half way up my front door (best guess would be 2-3 foot drifts). Unbelievable the snow and wind and from the way futurecast looks we still have another 4-5+ hours before the snow will wrap up. Looks like if I am going to work tomorrow it won’t be until the afternoon at the earliest.

    • Lots of big drifts around the area! The focus in the next 1-3 hours should shift more to the lakeshore counties.


  2. Lakeshore counties. Lucky us!

    Are you still thinking the original totals from the 10 pm Tuesday, or will this put us closer to 24 inches?
    I remember the 1999 storm well, and this seems much more intense.

    Seems like this past year, especially fall and winter have had extremely windy weather events, or extreme precip events. I was worried about the mild December, we always end up paying for that later.

    • Dave,

      As of midnight Milwaukee had 10.7″ of snow. Guessing the final total will be near 20″. Very hard to measure with this wind.


  3. I have a 6 foot drift along with many other 3-4 foot drifts. Roads are impassible at this time. Live a mile off the lake in Oak Creek.

  4. 8.3 inches in Sheboygan, and moderate snow still coming down. Drifts 3-4 feet. Significant blowing and drifting. Im not sure what the roads look like, and I don’t really want to find out. This wind is bitter. I’d guess you could get frostbite rather quickly, judging by how cold my hands and face were after only 10 minutes out measuring

    • Robert,

      Thanks for the update!


  5. We cannot get out of our home in Oak Creek; back door drifts 6ft plus; back door completely blocked. Front anywhere from 4 ft to 6 ft drifts. We live between Rawson & Drexal; Howell & Quincy. I am 50 & have never seen anything like this in my life! I never thought to keep a shovel in the house, but realize I need that today!

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