Latest Winter Storm Could be Historic

DULUTH, Minn. – One of the many eyes that will be to the skies during this unusual winter storm will be the National Weather Service office in Duluth.

Based on barometric pressure measurements, they say it is likely to be one of the strongest systems ever recorded during the month of December.  The current record was set back in 1948 with a low pressure system reading 976 millibars.  This storm system could break this, or end up a few millibars short.

“The strength of this system is incredibly strong,” says office meteorologist Woody Unruh, “so that will lead to very strong wind gusts happening later (Wednesday).  Gusts going all the way up to 40, 50, maybe even 60 miles an hour over Wisconsin.  Just these crazy strong winds; Lake Superior we have storm warnings in effect for some pretty high impacts over the lake.”

Unruh adds the threat for severe weather in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin adds another chance for this storm being historic.  “Looking back in our severe thunderstorm warnings (records), and at least for the Duluth coverage area…we’ve actually never issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the month of December.  This could be the first time we have ever issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the month of December.  As long as we have the shear there, the instability and the forcing for thunderstorms, we can get them.”

Other potential dangers this storm system can bring include a flash freeze, due to temperatures dropping below freezing before roads and surfaces can dry out from the expected rain, damage along the Lake Superior shoreline due to waves of 10 to 15 feet, and minor flooding due to the remaining snowpack and frozen ground unable to absorb the rain.

The office will be running at full staff during this storm system, making sure they keep the public up to date with warnings, changes in conditions, and keeping people on land and Lake Superior safe.

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