What a combination– A Monday after a holiday weekend, and a wintry mix that caused traffic delays, hundreds of flight cancellations and power outages in the Chicago area. Winds off the Lake churned up high waves, and flood advisories.
A wintry mix sounds like something you’d make for a holiday party–something to go with the spinach dip or salsa, maybe. There are even cocktails inspired by that name. Here is one recipe. I do like the splash of road salt!
But a wintry mix is neither fun nor festive. This can be a dangerous weather combination if you are trying to get around in it, or shovel it. Here is the recipe for a real wintry mix—rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow.
As you can see from the graphic above, the warm air layer that produces rain and freezing rain also causes sleet. Sleet is pellets of refrozen ice, and it usually doesn’t last long. The mix on Monday was mostly sleet. Here is the report from the National Weather Service–
Fast Facts of this Winter Event
- A powerful weather system impacted the central United States from December 26-28, including northern Illinois & northwest Indiana on December 28.
- This system was predominantly sleet (or ice pellets) with occasional mixing of freezing rain and snow for areas along and north of I-80, and mainly freezing rain with an occaisonal sleet mix south of I-80.
- While sleet is not necessarily rare, such a long duration of sleet is rare. That is because it requires a very specific atmospheric setup to occur, and thus it is usually temporary.
- In terms of official numbers, sleet is officially measured and recorded like snowfall. So this will be added to the seasonal snowfall totals for climate sites.
- The official sleet total for Chicago was 1.9″ (as of midnight) observed at O’Hare International Airport. The total liquid observed was 1.47″, which is the new daily record for December 28th, breaking the old one of 1.13″ set in 1968.
- The official sleet and snow total in Rockford was 3.5″ (as of midnight) observed at Chicago Rockford International Airport. The total liquid observed was 1.25″, which is the new daily record for December 28th, breaking the old one of 0.88″ set in 1927.
- Other sleet amounts include 1.6″ at the NWS Chicago office in Romeoville, and 2.1″ observed near (3 miles southwest) Chicago Midway International Airport.
- Wind gusts peaked as high as 53 mph in Waukegan, Illinois during Monday afternoon, with other areas seeing 40-50 mph gusts.
This sleet accumulation was unusual–there were even drifts of sleet reported!
The storm was part of the winter storm Goliath, which has caused ice storms in Oklahoma, and flooding, tornadoes and deaths in Texas and Mississippi.
The storm before that, Fred, is now causing floods in the UK.
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