That "67 Blizzard" really came outta nowhere. From 60s and sunny to an all out blizzard the next day. Kinda cool. I like these kind of unexpected surprises in weather. I.E, when they expect a little snow and then, suddenly, it turns into a huge snowstorm.
I think with the advancement of wx satellites and super-computers, the "element of surprise" is no more wrt winter storms. Old Man Winter threw MET's a ton of curve balls in the 60's and 70's. By the 80's I still clearly remember bad busts in both directions (bliz of '82 from STL up through SEMI as a classic example of an awesome good bust ). By the 90's I was living in NMI, and the newest wx models gave some less experienced MET's a sense of mastery over the elements. It was crazy circa mid-90's I remember hearing a radio station MET calling a "Winter Storm Watch" for a system about 8 days out
They (including NWS) soon realized that the state of the art hadn't advanced anywhere close to that level after all. But, each decade's seen it's steady improvements with the busts (think GHD1 for most of SMI = half the snow expected but not a total whiff) becoming less embarrassing, and the lead time accuracy steadily improving to where a "consensus event" can be seen at 240 hrs, and a fairly high confidence level of impact is had by the 120 hr mark.
Now, when they issue WSWatch boxes, they're pretty accurate. They may be off a county or two, or by a small percentage with the totals, but by and large it's come so far, nothing close to a "surprise blizzard" seems remotely possible. To the general public, this is great news. For me personally, it's met with mixed emotions. One of the big reasons notorious blizzards were more monumental and historic in the past was the inability for public works crews to get or stay on top of a storm like '67 or '78.
Jan '99 bliz was the last thing SWMI had that was close to a superstorm with some areas (including Lk enhancement) reaching 24+ inches. Because of a long (15 yrs?) drought of blizzards, that was the first one I remember with all the modern day forecasting tools, and the effects were extremely mitigated in metro Chicago compared to '67. Across SWMI, there was still considerable disruption due to ongoing drifting and the more open farmland environment, but rural communities weren't cut off from the outside world like back in '67
Long live the good ole days of "surprise blizzards"
Winter 2017-18 Snow Total = 68.3" Oct: 0.0 Nov: 0.0 Dec: 24.2 Jan: 14.5 Feb: 19.7 Mar: 4.7 Apr: 5.2 (annual avg for mby = ~49.9", avg for last 10 seasons = 67.4" ) 135% of normal-what a stretch it's been!!
Winter 2016-17 Snow Total = 52"
Winter 2015-16 Snow Total = 57.4"
Winter 2014-15 Snow Total = 55.3"
Winter 2013-14 Snow Total = 100.6" (coldest & snowiest in the modern record!)
Winter 2012-13 Snow Total = 47.2"
Winter 2011-12 Snow Total = 43.7"
Notable Blizzards/Snowstorms in SWMI: Nov 2015, Feb 2015, Jan 2014, Feb 2011, Dec 2000, Jan 1999, Mar 1998, Jan 1982, Jan 1979, Jan 1978, Jan 1977, March 1973, Jan 1967, March 1947, Jan 1918
"Long range winter forecasting - it's like tossing darts in a hurricane.." "In my day, they didn't name 'em, they just called 'em blizzards! *Shakes fist in air and ambles away mumbling to himself" “and to think kids nowadays get day's off school because the wind blew. I think in '78 we only got 1 day off” "..It's the U.P. where there are two seasons. Winter, and three months of bad skiing.."