2009 North American Christmas blizzard

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2009 Christmas Blizzard
Category 5 "Extreme" (RSI: 19.62)
2009 Christmas Storm 12-24.jpg
Satellite image of the storm on Christmas Eve.
TypeExtratropical cyclone
Winter storm
FormedDecember 22, 2009
DissipatedDecember 28, 2009
Lowest pressure985 millibars (985 hPa)[1]
Maximum snowfall or ice accretion40.0 inches (102 cm) (Lead, South Dakota)[1]
Areas affectedMidwest, Great Plains, Parts of Ontario, Eastern Seaboard

Part of the 2009–10 North American winter

The 2009 North American Christmas blizzard was a powerful winter storm and severe weather event that affected the Midwestern United States, Great Plains, Southeastern United States, the Eastern Seaboard, and parts of Ontario. The storm began to develop on December 22 before intensifying to produce extreme winds and precipitation by the morning of December 24.[3] The storm's rapid development made it difficult for forecasters to predict.[3] The blizzard was reported to have claimed at least 21 lives, and disrupted air travel during the Christmas travel season.[4] In the Southeastern and Central United States, there were 27 reported tornadoes on December 23–24.[5][6] The storm, a Category 5 "Extreme" one on the Regional Snowfall Index, was the first winter weather event to rank as such since the Blizzard of '96.



Snowfall varied across the United States. South Dakota likely received the most, with 30.8 inches (78 cm).[1] In Minnesota, 26 inches (66 cm) was received near Pequaywan Lake on the state's North Shore.[7] Parts of Texas recorded snowfall as high as 9 inches (23 cm) at Post.[1] Snowfall in Nebraska caused six deaths.[8] In Oklahoma, a state of emergency was declared after blizzard conditions killed 3 people and dropped 19 inches of snow.[8] Iowa saw high snowfall as well.[9]

The storm was so intense that it wrapped warm air around the north and west side of it and cold air and snow blew in from the south. Rochester, Minnesota, in the northern half of the storm, saw rain with temperatures in the mid 30s Fahrenheit while snow was falling just to the west in a 1,300-mile (2,100 km) band stretching from Canada south to at least Dallas, Texas, giving that region its first "White Christmas" since 1929.[10] Interstate 29 was completely closed in North and South Dakota, and then in stretches into Missouri.[11][12]


Heavy rain in parts of the Midwest prompted the National Weather Service to issue Flood Warnings for many areas. The maximum rainfall amount recorded was 6.89 inches (17.5 cm) in Little Rock, Arkansas.[1] Freezing rain fell across Iowa and Illinois, affecting travel to and from O'Hare International Airport.[1] The Chicago area saw as much as ten inches of snow following the freezing rain and sleet.[13]


Several houses were destroyed near Lafayette, Louisiana, possibly by a tornado.[14] Near Longview, Texas an EF-2 tornado left a path of destruction nearly one mile long.[15] Another tornado near Lufkin, Texas produced EF-3 damage.[16]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Enhanced Fujita rating
EFU EF0 EF1 EF2 EF3 EF4 EF5 Total
0 8 4 2 1 0 0 15
List of reported tornadoes – Wednesday, December 22, 2009
Time (UTC)
Path length
EF0 S of Martin Red River 2.76 miles (4.44 km)
EF0 S of Pleasant Hill Sabine 1.2 miles (1.9 km)
EF0 N of Many Sabine 2.6 miles (4.2 km)
EF1 W of Farmerville Union 6 miles (9.7 km)
EF0 W of Pineland Sabine 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
EF0 W of Fairmont Sabine 0.5 miles (0.80 km)
EF0 Recklaw area Rusk 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
EF2 Longview area Harrison 7 miles (11 km)
EF3 Lufkin area Angelina 4 miles (6.4 km)
EF0 Jacksonville area Cherokee 2 miles (3.2 km)
EF0 NE of New Summerfield Cherokee 3 miles (4.8 km)
EF1 SE of Atlanta area Cass, Miller (AR) 4 miles (6.4 km)
EF1 S of Avinger Cass 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
EF2 Timpson area Shelby, Panola 10 miles (16 km)
EF1 Garrison area Nacogdoches 0.5 miles (0.80 km)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Storm Summary Number 06 For Christmas 2009 Blizzard". HPC. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 9, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  2. ^ "Midwest US states face fresh blizzards". BBC. December 26, 2009. Archived from the original on December 27, 2009. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
  3. ^ a b "A Review of the December 24, 2009 Christmas Eve Blizzard". National Weather Service, Norman OK. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Deadly winter storm arrives in US Midwest". BBC News. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 25, 2009. Retrieved December 24, 2009.
  5. ^ "091223's Storm Report (1200 UTC – 1159 UTC)". Storm Prediction Center. December 23, 2009. Archived from the original on January 15, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  6. ^ "Today's Storm Reports (1200 UTC – 1159 UTC)". Storm Prediction Center. December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 25, 2010. Retrieved 2009-12-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ a b "U.S. storm turns deadly before Christmas". United Press International (UPI). Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  9. ^ "Iowa Environmental Mesonet". Iowa State University. December 24, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  10. ^ "White Christmas Across South Central US". NASA MODIS Website. December 29, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  11. ^ Liz Robbins (December 25, 2009). "Huge Storm Hobbles Middle of Nation". New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  12. ^ "White Out Christmas, Best To Stay In". WOWT. December 25, 2009. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  13. ^ Another 1 to 3 inches of snow expected Archived December 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Chicago Sun Times, December 27, 2009
  14. ^ "1 Death Blamed on Storms in Louisiana". New York Times. Associated Press. December 24, 2009. Retrieved December 25, 2009.[dead link]
  15. ^ Demarest, Janis. "Aerial tour of tornado damaged areas". KLTV. Associated Press. Archived from the original on February 22, 2012. Retrieved December 25, 2009.
  16. ^ Parker, Bill. "Public Information Statement, NWS Shreveport". Retrieved December 25, 2009.