ST. LOUIS — For starters, the storm we’re experiencing is not a blizzard. The National Weather Service says that a blizzard is a storm that lasts at least three hours and has heavy snowfall or blowing snow, winds of more than 35 miles per hour, and visibility of less than a quarter of a mile.

However, the latest documented blizzard to hit the St. Louis area occurred around February 1 and 2, 2011.The southern plains, the middle and upper Mississippi Valley, and the Great Lakes were hit by a record winter storm on Groundhog Day.

Thundersnow, a rare weather phenomenon

There was thundersnow all the way from Oklahoma to Illinois because of the storm. In the Midwest, heavy snowfall and storm conditions caused widespread damage.

Because of this, some airports were forced to close, and hundreds of flights were canceled. Interstates 70 and 44 in Missouri were also closed for a while.

There were several waves of the storm. The 31st of January marked the beginning of the first wave. It was thundering and raining sleet.

The rain changed to freezing drizzle as the storm’s second severe phase approached the southern Plains on Monday night. The second set of storms hit on Tuesday and Tuesday night.

On the morning of February 1st, a wintry combination of snow and sleet made its way over central Missouri. This storm brought harsh winter conditions to the St. Louis headquarters of the National Weather Service.

In the middle of Illinois, the northeastern part of Missouri, and the west central part of Illinois, it poured 2 inches in an hour.

Rain and gusts from the northwest, gusting to 35 miles per hour, creating a snowstorm that made visibility next to nothing.

Significant snow drifts were also visible. The destruction caused by the snowstorm forced the University of Missouri in Columbia to suspend classes for two days. Between Columbia and Jefferson City, snowfall totals ranged from 14 to 22 inches.

Across portions of east-central Missouri and southwest Illinois, the precipitation type was highly variable and created headaches for forecasters. A layer of warm air about 5000 feet above the surface of the earth made things more complicated.

It snowed 7-8 inches and sleeted an additional inch to the northwest of St. Louis. Sleet, snow, and freezing rain fell in the St. Louis area as a result of the warm layer disappearing and then reappearing.

A sleet accumulation of 2–4 inches made driving conditions dangerous. It began to snow in some areas late Tuesday night, and by Wednesday morning, there was an inch or three.

Eastern Missouri and central Illinois saw almost no accumulation of snow, but rather freezing rain and sleet. Typically, ice buildups of 0.5–0.75 inches occurred.

Annapolis and Fredericktown, Missouri, as well as Chester and Salem, Illinois, were hit by the ice storm component of this devastating winter storm. Because of ice that formed on trees, tree branches, and power lines, there were intermittent blackouts in this area.