Winter Storm Hunter Spreads a Mess of Snow, Sleet and Ice Across the Midwest, East and mid-South (Recap)

Jonathan Erdman, Chris Dolce, Brian Donegan
Published: January 13, 2018

Winter Storm Hunter was a disruptive low pressure system that brought snow, sleet, ice and heavy rain to much of the eastern half of the United States. Temperatures dropped as much as 30-40 degrees with the passing of Hunter's cold front as it passed through the East.

Hunter developed as a jet stream disturbance in the Rocky Mountains on Jan. 9, 2018. This disturbance eventually worked down to the surface during the following two days and crossed the central Plains into the Midwest. A series of disturbances worked along a deep trough of low pressure in the eastern half of the United States while the surface low pressure system developed in the Great Lakes, southern Ontario and into the Northeast. By the mid-afternoon on Jan. 14, the cold front and associated snow flurries left New England. 

(MORE: How Winter Storms are NamedWinter Storm Central)

Snowfall for the period between 7 a.m. Jan. 10 - 7 a.m. Jan. 13. The snowfall mostly associated with Winter Storm Hunter is outlined in red. Some snow did fall late on Jan. 13 in parts of northern New York and northern New England. Amounts there ranged from 2-8 inches with the highest totals in the northern Green Mountains of Vermont.

Precipitation throughout the event transitioned from heavy rain to freezing rain, sleet and eventually snow. Much of the Midwest saw a layering of precipitation types with snow overlying a layer of ice. Heavy snow developed in parts of western and central New York. 

Cities like Nashville, Louisville and Columbus, Ohio received slickening ice and snow on roadways and interstates while Albany and Buffalo, New York received flooding and ice jams due to warm weather. Interstates in the Nashville area, including Interstate 65 and 40 were closed at times due to pile ups and numerous crashes. 

Here are a few of the top snowfall totals: 

  • 22.3 inches: Bellevue, Ohio
  • 16.5 inches: Duane Center, New York
  • 16.0 inches: Penfield, New York
  • 15.0 inches: Dickinson Center, New York
  • 14.5 inches: Fairport, New York
  • 14.2 inches: Walworth: New York
  • 13.6 inches: Marion, New York

(MORE: Schools Closed, Roads Slickened)

Winter Storm Hunter was named for reaching population criteria. 

Region by region, here's how things evolved: 

Plains

Snowfall amounts up to 9 inches were reported Thursday in parts of the Plains, including 6.2 inches in Grand Forks, North Dakota, 6 inches in Bismarck, North Dakota, and 3 inches in Salina, Kansas.

In the upper Midwest, 2.8 inches of snow was observed at the National Weather Service office in Duluth, Minnesota.

An inch or two of snow was observed as far south as the Texas Panhandle early Thursday.

Blizzard conditions were observed in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service. A roughly 150-mile stretch of Interstate 29 was closed for several hours on Thursday morning north of Fargo, North Dakota, to the Canadian border.

(MORE: What is a Blizzard? | America's Blizzard Alley)

Another sunny day in North Dakota! #oilfield #northdakota #sunshine #morningcommute

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To the south, wind gusts to 76 mph have been clocked near Garden City, Kansas, with a 68-mph gust reported at Midland International Airport in Texas.

Midwest

A mess of sleet and freezing rain was followed by a splash of quick moving snowfall across portions of Illinois, Missouri and Indiana on Thursday and Friday with heavier snowfall reported across southern Illinois and Indiana.

Power outages were reported in Boonville, Indiana, and in Hopkins County, Kentucky. Power outages were also reported in parts of southeastern Michigan and southern Ohio, likely due to icing in these areas.

Across much of the Midwest, precipitation was layered with snow on top of ice. 

Parts of western Kentucky and far southern Illinois picked up 3 to 7 inches of snow and sleet, including Murray, Kentucky, which saw 5 inches of the white stuff on top of 2 inches of sleet. Paducah, Kentucky, which saw 4.5 inches of snow on top of 1.5 inches of sleet. Several sites near Bowling Green, Kentucky recorded 0.25 inches of ice. 

In Illinois, as much as 5.1 inches of snow fell in Carrier Mills, Illinois while Carbondale picked up one-half inch of sleet. Much of central and southern Illinois saw a light glaze of ice. 

One to two inches of snow fell across southeastern Missouri, but up to one-half inch of sleet was reported in Poplar Bluff with freezing rain and snow mixed in. Incredibly, Oak Ridge, Missouri, near Cape Girardeau, picked up 4.5 inches of sleet according to the National Weather Service. 

In Flint, Michigan residents saw 4.2 inches of snow as cold air kicked in, which Saginaw residents saw 4.8 inches. Michigan's lead snowfall came from near Ironwood with 8.6 inches, which is downwind of Lake Superior's western end, which may have enhanced snowfall totals there. 

Near the Ohio/Pennsylvania border east of Cleveland, 0.3 inches of ice aggregated near Kelloggsville. Generally, one to two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulated near Cleveland with 1-2 inches of snow across the city. Akron, Ohio received one-tenth of an inch of ice. 

Several inches of snow fell across central Kentucky and middle Tennessee on Friday. As was the case across much of the Ohio Valley, numerous precipitation types compiled on top of one another as air cooled from the west. In the Louisville area, up to a quarter inch of ice was topped by up to a half inch of sleet and several inches of snowfall, making any transportation tough. 

Mid-South

Accumulating sleet coated roads in eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee, northern Mississippi, northern Louisiana and western Kentucky Friday. Interstate 40 in parts of western Tennessee were closed Friday afternoon following slick conditions and several accidents. 

Freezing rain developed in the Nashville and across middle Tennessee during the late afternoon hours on Jan. 12, but switched over to snow during the evening. Snow amounted to half an inch to two inches across most of the area, but some spots in northern Tennessee saw more. Paris, Tennessee has received 8 inches so far.  

Farther west, in east Memphis, snowfall accumulated to nearly an inch and a half. 

Much of eastern Arkansas picked up sleet, with up to an inch being reported near DeWitt with snow on top of that. Little Rock picked up a trace of sleet. 

Icy roads were reported in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Jackson, Tennessee, among many other locations. Numerous vehicle accidents were reported on Interstate 22 in Union County, Mississippi due to ice. 

Union City, Tennessee saw an inch of sleet topped by 4.5 inches of snow on Friday. 

Reports of snow had come in from as far south as Alexandria, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi, on the morning of Jan. 12. More than four inches of snow and sleet may have fallen in northern Louisiana according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, but generally, amounts were less than 2 inches. 

Other notable precipitation totals: 

  • 4.5 inches of snow in Union City, Tennessee
  • 1.25 inches of sleet: Bolivar, Tennessee
  • 1.0 inch of sleet: Blytheville, Arkansas
  • 0.50 inches of sleet in Olive Branch, Mississippi
  • 0.20 inches of sleet: Greenville, Mississippi

Northeast

22.3 inches of snowfall was measured in Bellevue, Ohio and 16 inches of snowfall was reported in Penfield, New York.

As low pressure began to intensify over the Northeast, heavy snow occurred over western New York, leading to more than a foot of snow in about three dozen locations stretching from far western New York to northern New York. Thankfully, freezing rain was largely light or absent in this zone. 

Niagara Falls, New York saw 0.07 inches of ice accumulate before snow began to fly on the evening of Jan. 13. A few lakeshore locations in western New York saw a light glaze of ice. 

Farther east, numerous street flooding and basement flooding was reported in eastern Massachusetts early Saturday. In addition, over 130 reports of flooding came in on Jan. 12 from parts of West Virginia, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and New York state, including the Buffalo and Pittsburgh metro areas.

A swath of 2-4 inches of rain was reported from eastern Pennsylvania to eastern New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, western and southeastern Massachusetts and into southern Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern Maine. 

Snowfall in parts of northern and western Maine was generally light, with 1-3 inches reported. Up to 2 inches of sleet was also reported in far northern Maine before cold air arrived. An estimated 2 inches of sleet accumulated near Eagle Lake, Maine.


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