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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published April 12 2013

Weather Talk: Severe ice storms result of alignment of conditions

From Sioux Falls, S.D., to Worthington, Minn., all the conditions came together for a terrible ice storm Tuesday and Wednesday.

With the temperature between 28 and 30 degrees Tuesday, it rained most of the day, with thunder and lightning. It rained more than an inch before it turned to sleet Tuesday night. Then Wednesday night, snow buried what had been frozen. Ice accumulations ranged from a half-inch to nine-tenths of an inch. So many tree branches were broken that officials Wednesday were urging residents to stay inside to avoid being injured by falling ice-covered branches.

A similar storm struck the Red River Valley at about the same time of year in 1997. These severe ice storms are rare because they require just the right conditions: heavy rain falling over a shallow layer of subfreezing air.

But when the conditions align, a severe ice storm can be one of the most damaging of winter storms.


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