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Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Big Winter Snow Storm of 2012 Hits Midwest

January 12, 2012 - Today's huge winter snow storm is the piper collecting his pay. We've had a mild winter in the Midwest so far, but today we'll see fluffy white accumulations of 2-3 inches to more than seven inches in some locations.

Snowplows and salt trucks are patrolling streets in many cities big and small. Many airplanes are grounded today because of the storm, including Chicago's O'Hare and Midway, where hundreds of flights have already been cancelled. This is Chicago's first major winter storm this winter. Chicago can expect 4-7 inches over today and tomorrow.

The National Weather Service issued an alert this morning for Chicago that said, "Heavy snowfall rates of around 1 inch per hour may make it difficult for snow removal operations to keep up in some areas late this afternoon and early this evening."

As of 9:00 this morning, there were still no major delays reported at Midway or O'Hare, but the snow began falling in earnest around 10:00 AM. Chicago immediately put half of its snowplow and salt trucks on the streets to keep things running smoothly.

Kansas City, MO got off easy. A winter weather advisory was cancelled before sunrise, but some overnight snow and wind caused slick spots on area roads.

In contrast, Madison, WI can expect 5-6 inches over the course of today and tomorrow. With good salting and plowing abilities, Madison has no snow emergency. Surrounding communities such at Stoughton, however, have declared their own snow emergencies.

In case you're distressing about today's snowy weather in the Midwest, consider the plight of the folks in Cordova, Alaska. The small fishing town has been buried - literally - by winter storms have that have dumped 176 inches of snow and 44 inches of rain on them. Their attempts to dig out have been in vain so far. Even the National Guard has not been successful in trying to clear the town of the white stuff (see story "The Snow-Buried Town of Cordova Is Waiting for Shovels" below).
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