Just when you think you’ve seen every possible weather combination, Mother Nature delivers something new: a lightning blizzard.

Here in Chicago, the weather service warned about the impending weather pattern for 3 days. They said to expect 21 inches of snow in a day. I heard the rate would be somewhere around 3 inches per hour through the night.  Of course, Chicagoans expect under-delivery on big weather predictions. 2 feet usually turns out to be 9 inches and 12 inches often becomes 5.

The Lightning Blizzard Arrives

Today though, mother nature made good on her promise.  Right on the weatherman’s call, the winds started to swirl around 2pm. The gusts blew an ungodly amount of powder through the air without pause.  Having walked through a mile of the storm back from work, I can attest that this was the most disruptive winter event I’ve seen. It’s not bitterly cold but the winds are incredibly high and are pushing more snow back up through the air than I can ever recall.  I wore full coverage sunglasses for my entire walk and still had trouble looking up from the ground.

Don’t Fight It, Enjoy the View

So, I’m staying at home tonight. Considering the power and rarity of the event, I thought I’d snap a few photos from the safety of our 3rd floor apartment.   I shot these around 10pm on Tuesday night.

Lightning Blizzard Chicago
Facing Northwest – Lightning Blizzard Chicago 2011
Lightning Blizzard Chicago
Facing Southwest – Lightning Blizzard Chicago 2011
Lightning Blizzard Chicago
Facing Northwest – Lightning Blizzard Chicago 2011

For more information and photos of lightning blizzards or “thunder snow”, check out this weather.com article, the Wiki and this great Quora answer.