Winter Storm and Blizzard conditions on December 11th, 2000

A strong storm system developed over the panhandle of Texas Sunday night, December 10th. Low pressure strengthened and moved to central Illinois by Monday morning...central Indiana Monday afternoon...northwest Ohio by Monday night...and to eastern Lake Erie by Tuesday morning.

Strong warm air ahead of this storm surged into northern Indiana and northwest Ohio...generating rain across eastern Indiana and northwest Ohio. Snow over northern Indiana changed to freezing rain Monday afternoon...then back to snow Monday night. In northwest Indiana and southwest lower Michigan...heavy snow and very strong winds of 30 to 40 mph created blizzard conditions. Lake effect snow also generated more heavy snow late Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Snowfall amounts ranged from over a foot in northwest Indiana and southwest lower Michigan...to only a trace over parts of northwest Ohio. Areas in between had a wide range of snowfall and up to a quarter inch of ice accumulation on roads...trees and power lines.  Warsaw, Albion, Columbia City, and Auburn got the lion's share of the ice.

Nine to eleven inches of fresh snow were reported in LaPorte, St. Joseph, and Elkhart counties of northern Indiana.  12 to 16 inches of new snow fell on Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, and Branch counties in southern Michigan.  Further north, Grand Rapids and Lansing received 15 inches.  South Bend officially received 11.5 inches with Fort Wayne only recording one half inch.  Additional site specific snowfall amounts can be found in our latest public information statement.  A sharp cutoff to the snow can be seen in this map which is typical of heavy snow events. Note the tremendous gradient to the accumulations over a very small distance which is why small deviations in the actual track of the storm can result in major impacts to the forecast.  In this particular case, the heavy snow band fell from 1 to 3 degrees to the left of the surface low track.  The heavy snow band in this case was 2 degrees wide and well into the cold air which are both unusual.  An animation of the surface low track  is shown...note the rapid deepening which began as the low moved across Indiana and than into Ohio.  This corresponded to the heaviest snow over northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan with thunder snow reported there between 01Z-03Z.

As the intense low pressure center wound up and got stronger Monday night, Putnam County Ohio reported a 59 m.p.h. wind gust, while the Cleveland area had gusts of 70 to 80 m.p.h.

Fortunately, the public was warned well in advance of the storm.  The first statement sent by the Northern Indiana office was issued early Saturday morning.  A Winter Storm Watch was written Sunday morning for the upcoming Monday storm.  On Monday, Blizzard Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, and Winter Weather Advisories were issued for various parts of the area, depending on the type of weather that was occurring.

Blizzard Warnings are very rarely issued by the National Weather Service.  When a Blizzard Warning is issued, it should be a red flag to the residents of the area that the storm will indeed be a life-threatening event that should be taken extremely seriously.

Please send us your snowfall totals or stories about the weather you experienced with this December snowstorm to IWX.Webmaster@noaa.gov . We may summarize and print your story here!  We would especially like any pictures you may have taken.

This story written by Todd Holsten


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