Blizzard of February 12-13, 2007 

Snowfall as of 6 pm
Snowfall totals from across the region.  Click image to enlarge.

 

One of the most significant snowstorms in nearly a decade struck central Illinois on February 13, producing blizzard conditions in many locations. Snow began falling during the late evening hours of February 12 and did not come to an end until 24 hours later. The extended period of snow produced impressive accumulations across parts of central Illinois, particularly along the I-72 corridor where between 10 and 15 inches was common. Further north and south, snow totals gradually tapered downward. The precipitation began as rain across southeast Illinois, then changed to a brief period of freezing rain, sleet, and snow during the afternoon. As a result, snow accumulations south of I-70 were minimal, generally only an inch or two.


Event overview:
An area of low pressure developed across Texas on February 13, then began slowly tracking northeastward into the Ohio Valley.  At the same time, Canadian high pressure built southward into the Northern Plains, pushing increasingly colder air into the Midwest.  Precipitation broke out across Missouri early in the day, then began spreading northward into the colder air across central Illinois by evening. Surface temperatures were initially above freezing, but as precipitation began to fall, evaporative cooling caused the temperature to drop below freezing along and north of a Springfield to Paris line. A brief period of freezing rain and sleet occurred as the precipitation started, but quickly transitioned to all snow as temperatures continued to drop later in the evening. Snow fell across much of central Illinois throughout the night, with significant accumulations taking place by dawn. Meanwhile, a mix of sleet and freezing rain occurred along a Shelbyville to Mattoon line, where minor ice accumulations were reported before the precipitation changed over to snow during the morning of February 13. Further south, temperatures were warm enough to support rain across southeast Illinois until the colder air gradually worked southward toward midday.

The snow became heavy at times along and north of a Litchfield to Mattoon line during the day, as the low tracked into Kentucky. As an upper level disturbance approached from the west, synoptic lift increased across the area, resulting in the formation of several enhanced bands of snowfall. When the snow finally tapered off and came to an end during the evening, a wide swath of accumulations ranging from 8 to 14 inches was evident stretching from near Quincy eastward along the I-72 corridor through Springfield and Champaign-Urbana.  In addition to the heavy snowfall, strong northerly winds gusting from 35 to 45 mph created blizzard conditions. Visibilities were reduced to less than a quarter of a mile at times in falling and/or blowing snow. Many locations reported snow drifts ranging from 3 to 6 feet, prompting the closure of several area roadways. Further north, the snow was not quite as heavy in the Galesburg area, where 4 to 8 inches was common. The same was true across southeast Illinois, with Effingham picking up around 5 inches and areas further south seeing even less snow.

Event Highlights:

Peak wind gusts on February 13

The definition of a "blizzard", as written in NWS Directive 10-513, is:  Sustained wind or frequent gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph accompanied by falling and/or blowing snow, frequently reducing visibility to less than 1/4 mile for three hours or more.

Blizzard warnings were issued around 4 am February 13, running through midnight.  This was generally in an area from the Illinois River eastward to the Indiana border.  This was only the 2nd time the Lincoln NWS has issued a blizzard warning during its 12-year existence.  Blizzard warnings also extended across much of northern and central Indiana, into northwest Ohio.

Winds across much of central Illinois were sustained at 25 to 35 mph throughout the day, with frequent gusts even higher, especially from late morning through the afternoon.  The map above (click to enlarge) shows the highest wind gusts reported on February 13.  Gusts over 50 mph were reported in northern Champaign County, and also near Springfield.  A large area of wind gusts over 40 mph extended from about Kewanee to Jacksonville, eastward into northern and central Indiana.  This resulted in significant blowing and drifting snow, with near zero visibility and snow drifts of 3 to 5 feet.  Snowplows were unable to keep up with this drifting.  Many counties had roads closed from late morning into the overnight hours, as snow drifted back onto the roads as fast as the plows cleared them.

Actual snowfall amounts ranged from 8 to 14 inches along the I-72 corridor, with locally higher amounts.  The highest reported value of 17 inches was measured near Sidell, which is in southwest Vermilion County.  The town of Paxton, northeast of Rantoul near the Ford/Champaign County line, reported 16 inches.  An unofficial total of 15.8 inches was reported on the southwest side of Springfield.  Totals of 13 inches were reported in Normal and Havana.  (See full listing below.)

In Springfield, the official snowfall was 11.2 inches.  This marked the 4th snowest 24-hour period on record for the city, and was the most to fall since 13.7 inches was measured in the New Year's snowstorm of 1999.  The all-time record of 15 inches was set Feb. 28, 1900.

Further south, temperatures were warm enough for periods of freezing rain and sleet, before the snow began.  Around a quarter inch of ice was reported in Charleston/Mattoon and Effingham, followed by 2-4 inches of sleet.  In southeast Illinois, areas around Lawrenceville remained warm enough for rain, before finally mixing with sleet and snow by mid afternoon.

The following snowfall totals were reported.  Please note that these are preliminary.

SNOWFALL
INCHES  LOCATION             COUNTY      

 -----  ------------------   ----------- 
 17.0   SIDELL               VERMILION 

 15.8   4 SW SPRINGFIELD     SANGAMON      
 13.7   OGDEN                CHAMPAIGN     
 13.0   4 NE NORMAL          MCLEAN 
 13.0   PHILIDELPHIA         CASS
 13.0   HAVANA               MASON
 12.8   HOOPESTON            VERMILION
 12.5   5 W BLOOMINGTON      MCLEAN
 12.2   WINCHESTER           SCOTT
 12.0   MONTICELLO           PIATT
 12.0   ARCOLA               DOUGLAS
 12.0   ARTHUR               MOULTRIE
 11.9   MAHOMET              CHAMPAIGN

 11.8   RIVERTON             SANGAMON
 11.8   PETERSBURG           MENARD     
 11.7   URBANA               CHAMPAIGN
 11.4   TUSCOLA              DOUGLAS 
 11.2   SPRINGFIELD-OFFICIAL SANGAMON
 11.2   LINCOLN NWS-OFFICIAL LOGAN
 11.2   RANKIN               VERMILION
 10.5   CLINTON              DEWITT
 10.2   DECATUR              MACON 
 10.0   RANTOUL              CHAMPAIGN 
 10.0   MOUNT PULASKI        LOGAN 
 10.0   MONTICELLO           PIATT 

  9.5   DANVILLE             VERMILION
  9.4   ATHENS               MENARD 
  9.2   LOVINGTON            MOULTRIE
  9.2   ROANOKE              WOODFORD
 
9.0   CHESTNUT             LOGAN
  9.0   LEWISTOWN            FULTON
  9.0   PARIS                EDGAR
  9.0   LOAMI                SANGAMON     
  8.6   HOMER                CHAMPAIGN    
  8.5   1 N MACKINAW         TAZEWELL
  8.5   PRINCEVILLE          PEORIA     
  8.4   EDINBURG             CHRISTIAN
  8.4   GERMANTOWN HILLS     WOODFORD
  8.4   ST DAVID             FULTON   
  8.0   JACKSONVILLE         MORGAN
 
8.0   BISMARCK             VERMILION   
  8.0   PEKIN                TAZEWELL    
  8.0   5 SW PEORIA          PEORIA       
  8.0   MACKINAW             TAZEWELL
  8.0   PHILO                CHAMPAIGN
  8.0   STANFORD             MCLEAN
  8.0   MINONK               WOODFORD
  8.0   GROVELAND            TAZEWELL
  7.9   MANITO               MASON
 
  7.7   CAMP GROVE           MARSHALL 
    
  7.6   ROME                 PEORIA
  7.5   MORTON               TAZEWELL       
  7.5   DELAVAN              TAZEWELL
  7.5   RUSHVILLE            SCHUYLER
  7.5   CHILLICOTHE          PEORIA     
  7.1   PETERSBURG           MENARD      
  7.0   3WSW PEORIA-OFFICIAL PEORIA      
  7.0   TAYLORVILLE          CHRISTIAN
  6.8   CANTON               FULTON 
  6.2   BEECHER CITY         EFFINGHAM
  6.0   WINDSOR              SHELBY

  5.9   ALTONA               KNOX
  5.9   PRAIRIE CITY         MCDONOUGH
  5.5   PRINCEVILLE          PEORIA
  5.5   MOWEAQUA             SHELBY
  5.4   WASHINGTON           TAZEWELL         
  5.0   GALESBURG            KNOX 
  5.0   MORRISONVILLE        CHRISTIAN
  4.5   NEOGA                CUMBERLAND
  4.3   TOULON               STARK     
  4.3   LAKEWOOD             SHELBY
  3.8   MATTOON (0.25 ICE)   COLES        
  3.5   EFFINGHAM (0.25 ICE) EFFINGHAM
  3.0   CASEY                CLARK

  2.8   HENRY                MARSHALL
  2.2   MARTINSVILLE         CLARK
  2.0   STE MARIE            JASPER      
  1.5   5 NW FLORA           CLAY
  1.0   LAWRENCEVILLE        LAWRENCE
  1.0   FLORA                CLAY
  1.0   MOONSHINE            CLARK
  0.8   NEWTON               JASPER
  0.5   ROBINSON             CRAWFORD
  0.3   CLAREMONT            RICHLAND
  0.2   OLNEY                RICHLAND
  0.1   HUTSONVILLE          CRAWFORD

Pictures (click images to enlarge):  Additional Photos taken by Significant Weather Observers (SWOPs).

Whiteout conditions at the National Weather Service in Lincoln
Lincoln (photo by Mike Hardiman)

Drifting in the NWS driveway
Lincoln (photo by Mike Hardiman)

Whiteout conditions on the northeast side of Springfield.  Photo by Joe Armstrong.
Springfield (photo by Joe Armstrong)

North Dirksen Parkway in Springfield.  Photo by Joe Armstrong.
Springfield (photo by Joe Armstrong)

Whiteout conditions on I-72 at Veterans Parkway in Springfield.  Photo by Lawrence Estep.
Springfield (photo by Lawrence Estep)

Snow and poor visibility hamper traffic in Springfield.  Photo by Lawrence Estep.
Springfield (photo by Lawrence Estep)

Heavy snow falling in Mount Pulaski.  Photo by Chris Neaville.
Mt Pulaski (photo by Chris Neaville)

Between plows and drifts, snow piled several feet high near DeLand.  Photo by Matthew Brewer.
DeLand (photo by Matthew Brewer)

Photo by Kirk Huettl of 10 foot snowbanks along highway 10 looking east from the NWS driveway in Lincoln.
Photo by Dan Kelly looking east at Sunrise from the NWS office in Lincoln at Sundog (right of snowbank)
Car plowed on Gill Street in Bloomington after Feb 13 Blizzard, photo by Kirk Huettl


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