So for the first time in a very long time Tuesday morning we had a blizzard warning posted for central Wisconsin, including Marathon County. But did we in fact have a ‘blizzard’ or was it just another very strong snowstorm. Well a blizzard does in fact have a technical criteria. Blizzard conditions are described as a combination of 2 things…
1. Sustained winds or frequent gusts over 35 miles per hour
2. Snow or blowing snow causing visibilities under a quarter mile.
And in order for the storm to be called a ‘blizzard’ we need to have these conditions for 3 straight hours.
Here in Wausau and most of central Wisconsin, we definitely had the 2nd criteria covered early Wednesday morning during the height of the storm but we lacked the winds a bit. We did have some gusts over the 35 mph criteria..here are some area gusts reported..
Antigo: 39 Merrill: 38 Medford: 36 Wausau: 36 Marshfield: 39 Rapids: 35
Now again these are higher than the criteria but gusts this high were hardly frequent during the event, let alone sustained. That’s the key…we need these conditions to last for over 3 hours. So I would say briefly at times we had blizzard conditions, but I wouldn’t say we had a ‘blizzard’ in Central Wisconsin…just a very strong winter storm.
Now Northeastern Wisconsin makes a much better case. They saw even heavier snow and winds peaking over 50 mph in spots. Winds frequently gusted over 40 Tuesday morning from Door County to the Fox Valley. So just down highway 29…I would say Yup they definately had a ‘Blizzard’!
The N.W.S. Office in Green Bay did a fantastic summary of the event…check it out.
Meteorologist Brian Niznansky
Posted under Winter Weather
This post was written by bniznansky on December 11, 2009