Figure 1: Storm Total Sleet and Snow
Figure 2: Regional Storm Total Sleet and Snow
Figure 3: Surface Map/Radar Composite Loop
Figure 4: Montgomery County, Missouri - Blizzard Conditions
Figure 5: Quincy, Illinois - Blizzard Conditions
Figure 6: Liberty, Illinois - Snowplow stuck in the snow.
Figure 7: Mizzou Campus (Columbia, Missouri)- Rollins Street
Figure 8: Fulton, Missouri - Snow drifts covering cars.

St. Louis, Missouri

Historic Winter Storm
January 31st-February 2nd 2011

A historic winter storm produced crippling winter weather including heavy snow and blizzard conditions over a large area from the southern Plains through the middle and upper Mississippi Valley into the Great Lakes on February 1-2, 2011. Thundersnow was commonly observed during the storm from Oklahoma into Illinois. The intense snowfall and blizzard conditions completely overwhelmed the infrastructure across portions of the nation’s midsection, leading to airport closures and hundreds of cancelled air flights, as well as the closure of portions of Interstate 70 across Missouri and Interstate 44 across southwest Missouri.

Across central and eastern Missouri and west-central and southwest Illinois, the storm actually came in two waves. The first wave came on Monday January 31st as several periods of sleet and freezing rain, occasionally accompanied by thunder, impacted the portions of the region. The precipitation tapered to freezing drizzle on Monday evening, as the second crippling portion of the storm began to evolve across the southern Plains. The second wave of the storm unleashed its fury on Tuesday and Tuesday night.

A wintry mix of snow and sleet spread into central Missouri near daybreak Tuesday February 1st, and the wintry precipitation quickly overspread the area during the morning. This winter storm produced quite a range of hazardous winter weather conditions across the area serviced by the National Weather Service Office in St. Louis. Heavy snow fell across central and northeast Missouri into west-central Illinois with rates at times exceeding 2 inches per hour. These high snowfall rates combined with strong northwest winds gusting from 35-50 mph produced blizzard conditions with near zero visibility at times in white-outs and snow drifts of 3 to 5 feet deep. The University of Missouri in Columbia cancelled classes for 2 days due to the storm and its aftermath. Total snowfall accumulations along the corridor through Columbia and Jefferson City through Hannibal and Quincy ranged from 14-22 inches. A number of cooperative weather observations sites reported all-time record 2 day snowfall amounts.

Across portions of east-central Missouri and southwest Illinois the precipitation type was highly variable and created headaches for forecasters. An elevated layer of warm air centered around 5000 feet above the earth’s surface was the complicating factor. Across far northwest sections of the St. Louis metro area this warm-layer eroded with snowfall totals approaching 7-8 inches along with an inch of sleet. Through the heart of metro St. Louis, the warm-layer eroded at times and then returned, leading to constantly changing precipitation types ranging from sleet to snow to even some freezing rain. The predominant precipitation type however was sleet, and sleet accumulations of 2-4 inches were common leading to very hazardous travel conditions. The precipitation finally changed to all snow on Tuesday night with some areas seeing an additional 1-3 inches of snow accumulation.

From the eastern Ozarks into south-central Illinois little if any snow occurred, rather this area experienced freezing rain and some sleet. Ice accumulations of one-half to three-quarters of an inch were common. Some locations which experienced the ice storm portion of this crippling winter storm included Annapolis and Fredericktown, Missouri and Chester and Salem, Illinois. The ice accumulation on trees, tree limbs, and power lines created scattered power outages within this area.

A bitterly cold arctic airmass settled into the area on Wednesday morning. The combination of it and the fresh snow cover led to temperatures falling below zero across a large area.  Wind chill values of -15 to -25 were common from central Missouri to west central Illinois. 

The National Weather Service in St. Louis would like to thank our COOP observers, trained spotters, media and general public for the snowfall information and pictures.

Lowest Temperature Recorded After Storm 2/3
SLBM7  Shelbina        -15F
MNCM7 Monroe City -14F
RSEM7 Rosebud -14F
CDAM7 Mark Twain Lake -12F
CALM7 California -11F
FREM7 Freedom -11F
VNDM7 Vandalia -11F
KCOU Columbia -10F
CANM7 Canton L/D 20 -10F
FULM7 Fulton -10F
PEYI2 Perry -10F
SAVM7 Saverton L/D 22 -10F
BWGM7 Bowling Green -9F
KJEF Jefferson City -9F
KUIN Quincy -9F
WTNM7 Warrenton -9F
PTTM7 Pittsfield -8F
Lowest Hourly Wind Chill Values Observed 2/3
KUIN   Quincy          -25F
KPPQ Pittsfields -24F
KCOU Columbia -20F
KHAE Hannibal -18F
KJEF Jefferson City -17F
KSET St. Charles -12F
KALN Alton -10F
KSTL St. Louis -9F
KUUV Sullivan -8F
KSUS Chesterfield -7F
KCPS Cahokia -5F
Peak Wind Gusts Observed
KUIN   Quincy        47 MPH
KHAE Hannibal 47 MPH
KPPQ Pittsfield 40 MPH
KSET St. Charles 39 MPH
KCOU Columbia 38 MPH
KALN Alton 36 MPH
KSUS Chesterfield 33 MPH
KSTL St. Louis 32 MPH
New 24 Hour Snowfall Record
QLDI2  Quincy L/D 21    22.0 INCHES
PEYI2 Perry 6NW 20.0 INCHES
PTTI2 Pittsfield 18.0 INCHES
SVRM7 Saverton L/D 22 18.0 INCHES
LUSM7 Louisiana 15.0 INCHES
HNNM7 Hannibal 14.5 INCHES
CANM7 Canton L/D 20 14.0 INCHES*

MNCM7 Monroe City 13.0 INCHES**

*  Tied with 2/24/1975
** Tied with 2/13/1978

Note: Observed record snow totals for some of these stations are based on an incomplete period of record data, and should be considered unofficial.

Storm Total Snow and Sleet
PAYSON                 22.00
QUINCY LD21            22.00
HANNIBAL               21.00
3 E COLUMBIA           20.00
PERRY 6 W              20.00
NEW BLOOMFIELD         19.00
SAVERTON               19.00
SHELBINA               19.00
PAYSON COOP            18.00
ASHLAND                18.00
ASHLAND 0.7 WNW        18.00
MONTGOMERY CITY        18.00
PITTSFIELD             18.00
QUINCY                 18.00
RIPLEY                 18.00
ASHLAND KCOU           17.70
JEFFERSON CITY 3.1 W   17.20
MEXICO                 17.00
FULTON                 17.00
VANDALIA               17.00
NEW BLOOMFIELD 5.2 W   16.40
2 SSE FULTON           16.00
CALIFORNIA             16.00
JEFFERSON CITY         16.00
RHINELAND              16.00
TIPTON                 16.00
HANNIBAL 0.4 ENE       15.60
JEFFERSON CITY 5.9 W   15.50
COLUMBIA 2.4 S         14.20
BOWLING GREEN          14.00
CANTON LD20            14.00
CENTRALIA              14.00
LOUISIANA              13.00
HERMANN                12.00
ELSBERRY 1 S           12.00
WINFIELD LD25          12.00
HAWK POINT             12.00
4 W MOUNT STERLING     10.00
OLD MONROE             10.00
BOWLING GREEN 1 E       9.30
FREEDOM                 9.00
NEW LONDON 1.5 SW       8.60
GIRARD                  8.50
FORISTELL               8.00
JERSEYVILLE 2 SW        8.00
TROY                    8.00
WARRENTON 1 N           8.00
GREENFIELD              7.50
LAKE ST. LOUIS          6.50
NEW MELLE               6.50
O FALLON 2 SSW          6.50
CARLINVILLE             6.00
WATERLOO 1.9 SSE        5.50
WATERLOO 3.0 NNW        5.50
VIRDEN                  5.00
3 N GRAFTON             5.00
ST. CHARLES 1.2 SW      5.00
ALTON LD26              5.00
ROSEBUD                 5.00
ST. PETERS              4.80
6 SE NEW HAVEN          4.50
NEW MELLE               4.50
ELLISVILLE              4.30
ST. CHARLES             4.10
HARVESTER 1             4.10
2 W ST. PETERS          4.00
HAZELWOOD               4.00
ELSAH                   4.00
BALLWIN                 4.00
2 N UNION               4.00
CARLINVILLE 3.4 SW      4.00
GREENVILLE 2 NE         4.00
ST. PETERS 2 SSE        4.00
MEDORA                  3.80
NEW ATHENS              3.80
3 ESE HILLSBORO         3.50
NOKOMIS                 3.50
OATES                   3.50
POTOSI 4 SW             3.40
SULLIVAN 3 SE           3.40
GODFREY                 3.20
ST. LOUIS KSTL          3.10
HIGHLAND                3.00
ST. CHARLES             3.00
WASHINGTON              3.00
KIRKWOOD 1.6 S          2.90
RAMSEY                  2.80
UNIVERSITY CITY         2.80
CRYSTAL CITY            2.70
2 NW FARMINGTON         2.60
STAUNTON                2.50
CARLYLE LAKE            2.50
GLEN CARBON             2.30
LEBANON                 2.30
VIBURNUM                2.20
BISMARCK                2.00
2 NW FARMINGTON         2.00
FESTUS                  1.80
BELLEVILLE 2.2 SE       1.70
BELLEVILLE 4.5 WNW      1.50
VANDALIA                1.50
SALEM 1.8 NW            1.40
2 W FESTUS              1.30
STEN GENEVIEVE 0.5 S    1.30
PATOKA                  1.30
SMITHTON                1.10
7 S STEELVILLE          1.00
ALBERS 1 W              1.00
ELLINGTON               1.00

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