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Snowstorm Anniversary

December 10, 2011

    The biggest December snowstorm in Twin Cities history happened one year ago. It started snowing late on the evening of Friday, December 10th, and continued until late in the evening of Saturday, December 11th. When it was over, a whopping 17.1 inches was the total at MSP Airport, which is the site for official Twin Cities weather records.

     There was plenty of wind too.  Blizzard conditions existed for awhile on Saturday afternoon at MSP, and for much of Saturday over parts of southern and central Minnesota into western Wisconsin. How is a blizzard defined? The National Weather Service typically issues a blizzard warning when they expect sustained or gusty winds of 35 mph or more, and falling or blowing snow creating visibilities at or below one-quarter of a mile; these conditions should persist for at least three hours.

     You can have blizzard conditions with very little new snow…strong winds and extremely low visibility are the key ingredients.  The snowstorm a year ago brought heavy snow plus blizzard conditions to portions of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  You can find more details on the storm at the National Weather Service web site:   and also at the Minnesota State Climatology office site:

     On a personal note, the snowstorm was exciting to cover.  I stayed in downtown Minneapolis from Friday afternoon into Sunday afternoon.  We televised five consecutive hours of snowstorm coverage on Saturday morning, and we did a lot of special updates and web reports throughout the storm. By Sunday morning, the big story was the collapse of the Metrodome roof. I’ll never forget seeing that video for the first time!


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