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Groundhog Day Storm: One year later


The Groundhog Day Storm of 2011 dumped more than 40 cm of snow in some places
The Groundhog Day Storm of 2011 dumped more than 40 cm of snow in some places

Hilary Hagerman, staff writer

February 2, 2012 — This Groundhog Day, many people across the country woke up to warm temperatures and dry ground. But things were much different last year.

The heavy snow took days to clear
The heavy snow took days to clear

A colossal winter storm began developing over Texas at the end of January, 2011. Dubbed the 'Groundhog Day Storm,' this system pounded people from the Southwestern United States all the way to Newfoundland.

"The Groundhog Day Storm was a very large storm that affected a large portion of North America," says Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. "There were many reports of double digit snow amounts, as well as heavy freezing rain in the United States."

The snowstorm battered the American Midwest, dumping more than 70 centimetres of snow on some places. The blizzard grounded thousands of flights, closed schools and caused hundreds of accidents.

In Canada, some places were hit with 40 cm of snow. That coupled with harsh winds gusting over 100 km/h made for blowing snow and whiteout conditions from Ontario to Newfoundland.

In Ontario, the system didn't quite live up to the "snowmageddon" that was forecast, but it still was enough to bring the weekday to a near-standstill. About 15 centimetres of snow swept southern Ontario.

More than 300 flights were cancelled out of Pearson Airport in Toronto and there were many accidents reported along the 400-series highways in the GTA.

"Although this storm didn't quite meet its expectations, it was still quite the wallop for the GTA," Davis says.

Atlantic Canada was hit hardest by the wintery storm
Atlantic Canada was hit hardest by the wintery storm

The story was similar in Atlantic Canada, where some places saw 40 cm of snow. Many schools across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland were closed for two days. Hundreds of flights were cancelled. In some places, the snow took days to clear.

Halifax, Greenwood and Sydney, NS all set same-day snowfall records on February 2. In Greenwood, 29 cm of snow fell in 24 hours, shattering the previous record of 19.8 cm dating back to 1960.

This year is almost a complete 180. Many cities across the country have seen temperatures well above seasonal and snowfall amounts well below average.

"The weather pattern overall for all of North America has been drastically different than years past," says Davis, noting that North Americans have not seen too much wild weather.

"The Eastern Seaboard usually sees storm after storm, but this season, I can only remember Snowtober," he says.

However, Canadians hoping for a winter wonderland shouldn't give up yet. Earlier this week, the Maritimes were pounded with over 30 cm of snow, and people in Ontario and Quebec got a wintery wallop this past weekend

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