The Midwest blizzard of 2011: One year later

Feb. 1: What a difference a year makes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It's February 2012 and Kansas City is still waiting for its first inch of snow of the season. As we moved into February last year, 2011, it was a completely different scenario.

Kansas City had already had 17.3 inches of snow by the first of February, when a major winter storm was developing and about to impact our region and many other parts of the country.

What a difference a year makes.

A winter storm impacted a large part of the central and eastern United States from Feb. 1 through Feb. 2, 2011. The impacts were felt across much of the Central Plains, the Lower Great Lakes, into the Northeast.

A blizzard developed near Kansas City. Blizzards are rare in our local area.

The storm in pictures | View photos

A blizzard is defined to be a severe snowstorm that has winds blowing at sustained speeds of 35 mph or more for a period of a few hours. This is what developed on Feb. 1. 

This was one of the strongest blizzards ever to impact the region from Kansas City to Chicago, Ill.  Areas just south of Kansas City received near or more than 20 inches of snow including, Warrensburg, Clinton, and Sedalia in Missouri. The storm's impact was also felt from Oklahoma up I-44 through Springfield, Missouri and it blasted the Lake of the Ozarks as well.

Snow fell at the rate of 3 inches per hour at times and KCI Airport was closed during the afternoon and evening as the storm reached peak strength on Feb. 1. These snow rates brought travel in the Kansas City metropolitan area to a grinding halt, causing temporary closures of many highways.

In addition to the heavy snow, this event also brought rare blizzard conditions to the region with wind speeds gusting to over 40 mph reducing visibility to near zero at times with white out conditions, and drifting snow to 4 or 5 feet deep in many areas.

Peak Wind Gusts:
• Kansas City International Airport: 47 mph at 4:54 p.m.
• St. Joseph Rosecrans Airport: 51 mph at 5:04 p.m.
• Lee's Summit: 46 mph at 8:28 p.m.

Snowfall amounts:
• Warrensburg, MO: 23" (all-time record)
• Sedalia, MO: 21" (all-time record)
• Clinton, MO: 18" (tied all-time record)
• Kansas City Metro Area: 9" to 14"

As this storm tracked northeast it hit Chicago hard. Lake Shore Drive turned into a parking lot the day after the massive blizzard spread in with 60 mph winds and 20 inches of snow in the Windy City. People had to abandon their cars as they were getting buried in the snow.

This was not Kansas City's last winter storm of the season. There was another one later in the month and Kansas City ended up with over 36 inches of snow last winter. And, here we are a year later with no snow on the ground and we are still waiting for our first inch.

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