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Author Topic: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow  (Read 3897 times)

OCGuy81

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Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« on: April 22, 2021, 10:27:22 AM »

A multi car pileup, Involving at least 20 different crashes, shut down both directions of I-41 in Washington County, WI on Wednesday, attributed to what numerous drivers reported as whiteout conditions.

https://www.fox6now.com/news/i-41-sb-shut-down-near-county-d-in-washington-county-due-to-crash
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JoePCool14

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2021, 10:32:57 AM »

Wow, I knew it was cold up here in Wisconsin, but not cold enough to cause that kind of chaos. When visibility drops like that you just have to slow down as soon as you can with slamming on the brakes and sliding, and it's unfortunate how many drivers don't know this. Especially considering we're talking about Wisconsin, where snow is common.
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thspfc

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2021, 10:37:51 AM »

Seriously? Here in Dane County it barely snowed at all yesterday, and when it did, it was sunny in my front yard and snowing in my back yard.
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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2021, 10:46:38 AM »

I just watched the dashcam video. Driving *way* too fast for the conditions, pure and simple.
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OCGuy81

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2021, 10:53:49 AM »

Wow, I knew it was cold up here in Wisconsin, but not cold enough to cause that kind of chaos. When visibility drops like that you just have to slow down as soon as you can with slamming on the brakes and sliding, and it's unfortunate how many drivers don't know this. Especially considering we're talking about Wisconsin, where snow is common.

It's pretty late in the year for snow, isn't it? When I was growing up there I remember one freak snow storm the first week of May, but usually by mid April snow was in the rear view, save numerous slush piles along the highways.
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JoePCool14

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2021, 10:55:27 AM »

It's pretty late in the year for snow, isn't it? When I was growing up there I remember one freak snow storm the first week of May, but usually by mid April snow was in the rear view, save numerous slush piles along the highways.

Yes. But that doesn't mean drivers shouldn't be able to properly deal with it. The only exception would be for those who have winter tires and already switched them out.
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gbgoose

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2021, 11:16:51 AM »

Wow, I knew it was cold up here in Wisconsin, but not cold enough to cause that kind of chaos. When visibility drops like that you just have to slow down as soon as you can with slamming on the brakes and sliding, and it's unfortunate how many drivers don't know this. Especially considering we're talking about Wisconsin, where snow is common.

It's pretty late in the year for snow, isn't it? When I was growing up there I remember one freak snow storm the first week of May, but usually by mid April snow was in the rear view, save numerous slush piles along the highways.

Usually yes, we don't see snow at this time of the year.  But, it does happen.

just over 3 years ago the North Central and Northeast section around Wausau/ Stevens Point / Appleton / Green Bay had a 25-30" snowstorm in mid-April.  The snow totals dropped rapidly the further away from that region. 
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Big John

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2021, 01:47:25 PM »

The I-43 bridge in Green Bay was closed yesterday morning due to many crashes.
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mgk920

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2021, 04:33:12 PM »

Just some minor light scattered flakiness over the past couple of days, nothing major, here in the Appleton, WI area.

Mike
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SSOWorld

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2021, 10:30:13 AM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm
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Scott O.

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US 89

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2021, 11:50:19 AM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm

A snow squall often is a thunderstorm - just one that happens when it's too cold to rain.

thspfc

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2021, 03:23:06 PM »

Last September we had one of those days, but with rain. It rained hard for 15 minutes at a time, then it was sunny for 30-40 minutes, then it rained again. All afternoon.
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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2021, 07:58:09 PM »

Last September we had one of those days, but with rain. It rained hard for 15 minutes at a time, then it was sunny for 30-40 minutes, then it rained again. All afternoon.
Sounds like a standard rain storm in the USA in September outside the western mountains.
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Scott O.

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2021, 08:58:00 PM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm

A snow squall often is a thunderstorm - just one that happens when it's too cold to rain.

It's pedantic, but a thunderstorm only occurs after a weather observer hears thunder or sees a lightning bolt. It has nothing to do with size or type of precipitation. I'm assuming the NWS called it a squall since it's a common occurrence and the local weather reporters would have used thundersnow if it was a thunderstorm because every meteorologist, weather forecaster, and weather observer I've ever known loves to report thundersnow. (I have no idea why, but it's somewhat rare and fun to say.) I was an AG in the Navy in the early 80's; my first eleven weeks after boot camp were an eleven-week weather school at an air force base.

Strangely, a thunderstorm only requires thunder. It does not require any precipitation.
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mgk920

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2021, 03:38:48 AM »

Like a dry supercell thunderstorm.

Mike
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JoePCool14

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2021, 09:40:54 AM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm

A snow squall often is a thunderstorm - just one that happens when it's too cold to rain.

It's pedantic, but a thunderstorm only occurs after a weather observer hears thunder or sees a lightning bolt. It has nothing to do with size or type of precipitation. I'm assuming the NWS called it a squall since it's a common occurrence and the local weather reporters would have used thundersnow if it was a thunderstorm because every meteorologist, weather forecaster, and weather observer I've ever known loves to report thundersnow. (I have no idea why, but it's somewhat rare and fun to say.) I was an AG in the Navy in the early 80's; my first eleven weeks after boot camp were an eleven-week weather school at an air force base.

Strangely, a thunderstorm only requires thunder. It does not require any precipitation.

Jim Cantore intensifies...
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midwesternroadguy

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2021, 06:25:50 AM »

The semi in that video was driving recklessly.  He was driving way too fast if he knocked over a snow plow.  I hoped he was ticketed. 

https://www.cbs58.com/news/officials-respond-to-multiple-crashes-on-i-41-in-washington-county-during-mid-april-snowfall

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jeffandnicole

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2021, 07:48:00 AM »

The semi in that video was driving recklessly.  He was driving way too fast if he knocked over a snow plow.  I hoped he was ticketed. 

https://www.cbs58.com/news/officials-respond-to-multiple-crashes-on-i-41-in-washington-county-during-mid-april-snowfall



And the pickup was driving way too fast for conditions too...and way too close to another vehicle in bad weather.

At my yard several years ago, one of our snow plow trucks got slammed by a tractor trailer, right around Exit 18 of I-295 in NJ.  Our driver took early retirement due to his injuries after the crash.
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US 89

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2021, 10:40:27 AM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm

A snow squall often is a thunderstorm - just one that happens when it's too cold to rain.

It's pedantic, but a thunderstorm only occurs after a weather observer hears thunder or sees a lightning bolt. It has nothing to do with size or type of precipitation. I'm assuming the NWS called it a squall since it's a common occurrence and the local weather reporters would have used thundersnow if it was a thunderstorm because every meteorologist, weather forecaster, and weather observer I've ever known loves to report thundersnow. (I have no idea why, but it's somewhat rare and fun to say.) I was an AG in the Navy in the early 80's; my first eleven weeks after boot camp were an eleven-week weather school at an air force base.

Strangely, a thunderstorm only requires thunder. It does not require any precipitation.

That may be true of how weather is officially reported at observation stations, but in terms of how a snow squall forms - they are caused by convection (i.e. showers, not just widespread steady precipitation), which is also what you need to generate thunder and lightning. Many snow squalls occur with convection intense enough for some sort of thunder and lightning to occur (it's harder to get lightning in winter because it's often too cold to get enough instability in the atmosphere for it). And yes, thunderstorms can absolutely occur without precipitation at the surface: as you're probably familiar with, the most common way for this to occur is a hot, dry summer day in the west with just enough moisture for a storm, but all the rain evaporates long before it reaches the ground. This is a great way to generate strong to severe wind gusts at the surface, which is a great way to spread fires the storm just started thanks to lightning.

For a snow squall warning to be issued by the National Weather Service, a very precise set of criteria has to be met: visibility must drop below a quarter of a mile and ground temperatures must be below freezing, causing dangerous and life-threatening conditions that will not last more than an hour. (If they last longer, it's not really a snow squall anymore and a winter storm or blizzard warning is more appropriate.)

I should also note that NWS stretches the definition of "thunderstorm" on some occasions - in my experience a severe thunderstorm warning will be issued whenever any convective storm is producing wind gusts over 58mph or 1 inch hail, even if no lightning has necessarily been observed.

I'm a meteorology student now and one of the things you learn is in this field, there's almost always a job out there for you somewhere (you just may not know where to look). Weather is everywhere. Even if you're not at the NWS or a TV station, places like the military or various companies often need meteorological expertise in some capacity to help them make decisions. As for why thundersnow is so common...I'm not sure, other than that it's relatively rare? Jim Cantore certainly made it more popular to talk about it.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 10:47:25 AM by US 89 »
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skluth

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Re: Massive pileup on Interstate 41 due to April snow
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2021, 02:00:16 PM »

It was a snow squall. A burst of heavy snow that causes whiteout conditions the size of a thunderstorm

A snow squall often is a thunderstorm - just one that happens when it's too cold to rain.

It's pedantic, but a thunderstorm only occurs after a weather observer hears thunder or sees a lightning bolt. It has nothing to do with size or type of precipitation. I'm assuming the NWS called it a squall since it's a common occurrence and the local weather reporters would have used thundersnow if it was a thunderstorm because every meteorologist, weather forecaster, and weather observer I've ever known loves to report thundersnow. (I have no idea why, but it's somewhat rare and fun to say.) I was an AG in the Navy in the early 80's; my first eleven weeks after boot camp were an eleven-week weather school at an air force base.

Strangely, a thunderstorm only requires thunder. It does not require any precipitation.

That may be true of how weather is officially reported at observation stations, but in terms of how a snow squall forms - they are caused by convection (i.e. showers, not just widespread steady precipitation), which is also what you need to generate thunder and lightning. Many snow squalls occur with convection intense enough for some sort of thunder and lightning to occur (it's harder to get lightning in winter because it's often too cold to get enough instability in the atmosphere for it). And yes, thunderstorms can absolutely occur without precipitation at the surface: as you're probably familiar with, the most common way for this to occur is a hot, dry summer day in the west with just enough moisture for a storm, but all the rain evaporates long before it reaches the ground. This is a great way to generate strong to severe wind gusts at the surface, which is a great way to spread fires the storm just started thanks to lightning.

For a snow squall warning to be issued by the National Weather Service, a very precise set of criteria has to be met: visibility must drop below a quarter of a mile and ground temperatures must be below freezing, causing dangerous and life-threatening conditions that will not last more than an hour. (If they last longer, it's not really a snow squall anymore and a winter storm or blizzard warning is more appropriate.)

I should also note that NWS stretches the definition of "thunderstorm" on some occasions - in my experience a severe thunderstorm warning will be issued whenever any convective storm is producing wind gusts over 58mph or 1 inch hail, even if no lightning has necessarily been observed.

I'm a meteorology student now and one of the things you learn is in this field, there's almost always a job out there for you somewhere (you just may not know where to look). Weather is everywhere. Even if you're not at the NWS or a TV station, places like the military or various companies often need meteorological expertise in some capacity to help them make decisions. As for why thundersnow is so common...I'm not sure, other than that it's relatively rare? Jim Cantore certainly made it more popular to talk about it.

Like I said, my answer was pedantic as is your response to that. I knew and agree with all you wrote, though our guidance in the Navy was to never report thunderstorms without lightning or thunder happening. I enjoyed working as an observer, especially sending up weather balloons on both Diego Garcia and Midway Island. I would have had to reenlist to attend forecasting school (a very intense six months according to my friends); it's not the same as being a meteorologist because there's less math needed and less theory taught. It's different for officers who attend the Navy's postgrad school in Monterey, but I was enlisted and had no desire to be an officer.

I hope you enjoy working as a meteorologist. I personally find weather both fun and interesting which explains why I'm about as much a weather geek as I am a highway planning geek.
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