...Winter Storm Summary - January 19-20, 2011...

Another winter storm raced through the Central Plains this week, bringing widespread snowfall accumulations to the region, and a narrow area of climatologically heavy snowfall.  This storm system first made landshore as late as Tuesday morning, but quickly rushed southeast towards the four corners region.  Due to the track of this storm system, large volumes of moisture were able to stream into the area from the southwestern United States setting the stage for widespread precipitation.  By Wednesday morning snow had already developed over central Kansas and Nebraska, with this area of snow struggling to move eastward thanks in part to a layer of dry air stuck in the middle portions of the atmosphere.  The soundings below show just how dry the atmosphere was overhead on Wednesday morning. 

However, around noon on Wednesday the first flakes of snow began to fall in eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  Once the first flakes reached the ground, it would only take minutes for snowfall rates to rapidly increase and visibilities to rapidly decrease.  Periods of heavy snow were common, with visibilities below one quarter mile and snowfall rates as high as 2 inches/hour!

 
Overview of Storm Track 6AM Wednesday Atmospheric Profile from Topeka, KS 6PM Wednesday Atmospheric Profile from Topeka, KS

Snow would continue to develop and saturate the atmosphere across central Missouri through the evening hours.  However areas near the Kansas City metro were inundated by heavy snowfall before the evening commute, leading to treacherous travel conditions and extreme traffic delays.  Snowfall persisted through the overnight hours before tapering to flurries by daybreak. 

Click on the image for a larger version

Accumulations in the entire region averaged between 3 and 6 inches.  However, a heavy snow band orientated from east to west from northeastern Kansas, through the Kansas City metro and eastward along the Interstate 70 corridor to St. Louis produced upwards of 6 to locally 10 inches of snow!  The map below represents storm total snowfall from this winter storm as collected by our cooperative observers, spotters, law enforcement and members of the public.

 

 


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