Chicago and Detroit close in on snowfall records as next storm approaches


GFS model total snowfall forecast through Thursday (WeatherBell.com)

A powerhouse late winter storm – poised to bring strong thunderstorm to the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday – will throw back wind-driven snow on its northwest flank from the Great Lakes into the interior Northeast.   A ribbon of 4-8 inches of snow from Chicago to Detroit will bring their seasonal snowfall totals close to 120-plus year records.


Storm infographic for Chicago (National Weather Service)

Chicago has already been buried by 75.5 inches of snow this winter, fourth most on record dating back to 1884-1885.  The snowfall expected tonight and tomorrow should push the seasonal total into third place, ahead of the 77.0 inch total from 1969-1970.  If 8 inches accumulate, the season’s snow output will surge into second place, besting the 82.3 inch amount from 1977-78.  The 89.7 inch total from 1978-1979 shall remain the snow king through this storm, but the Windy City frequently gets accumulating snow into April, so an all-time snow record remains achievable.

Link: Chicago’s seasonal snowfall totals (since 1884-1885)

Detroit has received 84.1 inches of snow this winter, standing alone in second place in records dating back to 1880.  Its snowiest winter on record was 1880-1881 when 93.6 inches fell.  Should snowfall from this storm reach the high-end of 4-8 inch projections, 2013-2014 will move into first place in Detroit’s snow history.

Link: Detroit’s seasonal snowfall totals  (since 1880-1881)

A winter storm warning has already been hoisted in Chicago where rain is expected to change to snow this evening.   Writes the National Weather Service:

PERIODS OF HEAVY SNOW…COMBINED WITH NORTHERLY WINDS OF 20 TO 30 MPH AND GUSTS TO 40 MPH LATE TONIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING WILL LEAD TO CONSIDERABLE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW…WITH NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AT TIMES. TRAVEL WILL LIKELY BECOME TREACHEROUS.

In Detroit, a winter storm watch is in effect from late tonight into Wednesday evening for the potential for at least 6 inches of snow and winds gusting over 30 mph.

Some of the storm’s heaviest snows should concentrate northeast of the Great Lakes: from the Adirondacks through Vermont and New Hampshire and into northern Maine. That’s where the National Weather Service forecasts a high likelihood of at least 8 inches of snow.


Probability of at least 8 inches of snow Wednesday into Thursday (National Weather Service)

In Burlington, Vermont 12-16 inches of snow are forecast. This storm is great news for New England ski areas.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · March 11