Chicago Blizzard 2011: Looking back on 'Snowmageddon' 10 years later

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Chicago Blizzard 2011: Looking back on 'Snowmageddon' 10 years later
More than 20 inches of snow. Drivers stranded for miles on Lake Shore Drive. Do you remember the Chicago blizzard of 2011?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago is normally a cold, snowy city in the winter, but the blizzard of 2011 took things to a whole other level.

The blizzard is the third largest snowstorm on record for the city. More than 20 inches of snow fell in just a few hours starting on Jan. 31, 2011. The total at O'Hare was eventually recorded to be 21.2 inches total, falling from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

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The Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011 was seen coming several days in advance, but still nobody expected it to have quite the punch that it eventually delivered.

The snow fell so fast and hard, drivers were stranded for miles in the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive; approximately 700 people in all. They were trapped for hours by crashes in front of them, traffic behind them, and snow falling all around them.

Eventually hundreds of cars were abandoned on the drive as people evacuated or were told to evacuate by emergency responders. Even some response vehicles ended up trapped on Lake Shore Drive during the storm.

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Seven deaths were linked to the blizzard.

But the weather also brought the snowed-in city closer. Neighbors shoveled out driveways and sidewalks together, helping drivers get their cars out of massive piles created by plows clearing side streets. And neighborhoods came together for good old fashioned snow days, sledding in the streets, building snowmen and having snowball fights.

With 21.2 inches total, the 2011 blizzard sits in the history books behind the Jan. 1-3 1999 blizzard, which dropped 21.76 inches of snow, and the Jan. 26-27 1967 blizzard, which saw a whopping 23 inches of snowfall.