2/1/15 – A large and powerful snowstorm affected a large portion of the United States from the Midwest, through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. Dumping 15-20 inches of snow in a number of areas, packing strong wind gusts, and snowfall at rates of up to 1-2 inches per hour. This was a long duration heavy snow event, which resulted in lots of blowing and drifting, high snowfall accumulations, near blizzard conditions at times, motorists becoming stuck or stranded, a number of accidents and slide offs, and many schools and businesses closing down due to the conditions.
One computer model stood out from the rest several days before, showing a snowstorm set to impact northern areas of the US around Feb 1-2. That model, was the GFS. Over time, the model forecasts trended northward with the snow. Many people were skeptical. I was favoring the northward trend. Then suddenly just a couple of days before the storm, the GFS forecast showed it all south of the area. Within a day or so though, it went right back to showing a large swath of heavy snow across the Great Lakes and other regions in the north. My forecast was for 6-12 inches along the I-94 corridor, and that was blown away by the 15-20 inch amounts. The storm was more intense than expected, and ended up dumping a lot more snow than forecasts were showing.
I was on assignment documenting this snowstorm from my target area, Battle Creek, MI. On the drive down during the early morning hours of Feb 1st, I encountered some light snow already pushing into the area around Ionia, and points southward. This light snow made travel conditions difficult, so I had to slow down which delayed my arrival at my target. I arrived in Battle Creek sometime around 4AM and got a little bit of broken sleep (about 4-6 hours) before heading out later in the day. I awoke to 5-6 inches of snow already on the ground, so I knew that it was going to be a great day for chasing/documenting the snowfall.
I filmed many different scenes throughout the day, including many slow travel scenes, vehicles stuck, stranded, spinning their tires, people shoveling, struggling to get around in the snow and cold. At one point I filmed 3 consecutive plow trucks clearing one of the main roads, and later in the night… 4 consecutive plow trucks! It was snowing heavily in the early afternoon, and the wind was picking up. The snow was piling up and drifting faster than any plow crews could keep up with. As the afternoon wore on, I traveled around Battle Creek filming the carnage in my F-250, which by the way, got through everything without hesitation. I love my 4×4 V8! One thing I notice about big snowstorms like these is the absolute chaos they bring. Half of the road/driving laws go out the window. You’re reduced to just 1 lane in many cases. People are stuck, stranded just everywhere on the roads, near/in intersections, etc. People pulling people out (which I assisted in pulling one guy out) and all sorts of things.
I continued to shoot video well into the late night hours. Folks were really struggling with the snow, because of how heavy it was, and how long/fast it came down. Plow crews were out in full force. County, commercial, and residential. They did a great job clearing away roads and parking lots. All in all, this was an amazing event. I spent many hours battling the elements to capture the video footage and photos below. This was easily a top 5 snowstorm for me. The full video is below, which shows everything notable from the first light snow during my drive, to the craziness that ensued all the way through this event, to the plow crews working hard, to the last scenes of a wrecked SUV being taken away on a wrecker. I hope you enjoy the footage! 🙂 As always, feel free to share this article. (last image is from on my way home the next day)