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Blizzard with Cloud-to-ground Lightning

Duluth, MN

April 10 to 12, 2008

Highlights

Around 10 inches of dense soggy snow, specifically 10 inches personal measurement and 9.9 inches at the National Weather Service in Duluth.

Frequent thunder sometimes multiple times per minute.

Cloud-to-ground lightning observed!

Wind gusts to around 60 mph including 62 mph from the ASOS at the Duluth International Airport.

Discussion

Most of the snow fell between 11:30 PM CST (12:30 AM CDT) and 6 AM CST from late evening April 10 to early morning the 11th. Lightning/thunder occurred up to several times a minute between midnight and 3 AM. The radar image below shows a band of heavy snow with thunder over Duluth at approximately 2 AM CST. The water vapor satellite image shows convection developing in northwest Wisconsin near the nose of the storm's mid-tropospheric dry slot that was rotating northwest toward Duluth and the head of Lake Superior. As early as 7:30 PM, as the snow approached from the south, distant lightning could be seen flashing between the cloud layers. After a couple of hours of intermittent flurries at the start of the storm, steady snow began after 9:30 PM. Strong east to northeast winds funneling dry air into the head and north shore of Lake Superior delayed the onset of heavier snow.

At 12:58 AM, like an explosion from a bomb dropped from an airplane, lightning struck in the woods on the other side of the street from where this observer was standing. Quite a jolt! Close call. Kids (and adults) don't try this at home! Interestingly, cloud-to-ground lightning had just occurred with an earlier storm the previous week on April 5.

For the rest of the storm, steady lighter snow fell during the daylight hours to 3:30 PM on April 11. After that, very light snow or flurries continued into the night and into the daylight morning hours of April 12.


Radar image from the National Weather Service in Duluth, MN
2:05 AM CST April 11, 2008



Water vapor satellite image (8 km) - National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS)
9:45 PM CST April 10, 2008