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March Mania

Wednesday's blizzard was a true ground blizzard

The ground blizzard on Wednesday, Feb. 12, was not short on substance.

Shortly before 4 a.m., the wind went from west at 8 mph to north at 36 mph, gusting to 43 mph. The peak gust was 53 mph. The temperature fell 40 degrees in seven hours and the wind chill dropped 60 degrees in that same time. At 3 a.m., it was 29 degrees with a wind chill of 19. Seven hours later, at 10 a.m., it was 11 degrees below zero with a wind chill of minus 41.

The sudden increase in wind loosened much of the existing snowpack, causing it to become airborne, lowering visibility to near zero for several hours and to less than a quarter mile through mid-afternoon. This was a true ground blizzard, with hardly any new snowfall. A pre-dawn snow shower produced 0.2 inches of snow; the rest was just windblown old snow.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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