Barack Obama Declares Illinois Disaster Area for Ground Hog Day Blizzard

President Barack Obama declared 60 Illinois counties federal disaster areas due to February’s Ground Hog Day blizzard.

Local governments may be reimbursed for 75 percent of their eligible storm-related expenses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced Thursday federal funds would cover costs incurred between January 31 and February 3.

According to the governor’s office, state and local governments combined spent an estimated $64 million to respond to the storm and recover afterward. The City of Chicago estimates the record-breaking February winter storm cost $37.3 million.

Governor Pat Quinn asked earlier this month that Illinois counties be made eligible for federal assistance due to a storm that dropped more than 21 inches of snow on northern Illinois.

The 20.2 inches that fell with the Ground Hog Day Blizzard of 2011 on February 2 brought the third largest snowfall in Chicago history. The blizzard was the biggest snowstorm ever in the month of February. Here is a list of the top ten snows in Chicago:

1.  23.0 inches Jan 26-27, 1967
2. 21.6 inches Jan 1-3, 1999
3. 20.2 inches Feb 1-2, 2011
4. 19.2 inches Mar 25-26, 1930
5. 18.8 inches Jan 13-14, 1979
6. 16.2 inches Mar 7-8, 1931
7. 15.0 inches Dec 17-20, 1929
8. 14.9 inches Jan 30, 1939
9. 14.9 inches Jan 6-7, 1918
10. 14.3 inches Mar 25-26, 1970

Record breaking snow is reported at 13.6 inches at Chicago O’Hare International Airport for the calendar date February 1 (not the whole storm period), which was previously set at 4.0 inches on February 1, 1967. The record also tops any calendar date record for the entire month of February, which was previously 11.5 inches, which occurred on February 18, 1908.


SNOW-STUNNED: Stranded motorists, firefighters on snowmobiles, and an urban coyote walking the streets of Chicago during the blizzard.