Do You Remember... The Blizzard of 1999?

Posted: January 11, 2018, 4:09 pm by nwiles

Thousands were out celebrating the first weekend of 1999 when snow slowly pushed into the Midwest late on New Year’s Day. States from Illinois to Ohio and Michigan were under the radar for a major snow event, but it would be Chicago and bordering areas around Lake Michigan that would take the brunt of the storm. It would go down as the second-worst blizzard of the 20th Century according to the National Weather Service. 

The heaviest snow overspread the region early on Saturday, January 2nd as the strengthening system moved overhead. Snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour became a common theme during the day for much of the upper-Midwest, along with wind gusts of up to 50 mph. Blizzard conditions stopped traffic in its place and grounded airplanes from Chicago’s O’Hare all the way to Detroit. Flight cancellations spanned for multiple days as the storm raged on, stranding several hundred thousand travelers.


The scene in Chicago after the Blizzard of 1999 (image credit:


The blizzard impacted many different parts of life across the Midwest, including travel and economic activity. A 60-car pile-up occurred in Wisconsin on January 2nd, and a 100-mile stretch of I-65 in Indiana was closed for two full days. Snow battered the region through January 3rd before the system began its march into the Northeast but by then a stripe of 12-28” of snow had been smeared across southwest Michigan and northern Indiana with over 15-20” in northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The storm cost the city of Chicago roughly $44 million dollars in snow removal and salt, and took nearly 100 lives from accidents and storm-related ailments.

On January 4th, the entire state of Illinois was declared a state of disaster, which was followed up by President Bill Clinton whom later declared 45 Illinois counties (along with a few counties in Indiana and Michigan) disaster areas, allowing the release of federal funding. Do you remember this one? Let us know on social media on Facebook and Twitter

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