A powerful winter storm pounded all of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas with heavy snow, and eventually strong northwest winds between Monday afternoon, Dec. 7th, and early Wednesday morning, Dec. 9th, 2009. While light snow accumulations and fairly tame breezes marked the first 12-24 hours of the event, snowfall and winds picked up markedly in intensity during the afternoon and evening hours of Dec. 8th as the parent low pressure system deepened along its track from Kansas toward the Great Lakes.
The radar loop below shows widespread snow falling across the majority of Nebraska and northern Kansas on December 8th from about 445 pm CST to around 630 pm CST:
By the time snow ended across the region during the early morning hours on Dec. 9th, the majority of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas found itself digging out from a fresh 6-12 inches of snow, with some locally higher amounts. Due to the strong winds, drifting was significant and many roads were impassable for a time. In the NWS Hastings 30-county forecast area, only far western areas, including parts of Dawson, Gosper and Furnas counties appeared to escape storm total snowfall totals of greater than 6 inches.
In Grand Island and Hastings, new records for snowfall on the calendar day of Dec. 8th were established. This information is summarized in the table below. Storm total snow amounts are slightly higher because a little bit of snow fell Monday evening.
|City||Storm Total Snowfall||
|Previous Snowfall Record (for Dec. 8th)
||Period of Record|
|Grand Island||10.0"||9.7"||2.2" in 1948||1895 to 2009|
|Hastings||10.9"||10.5"||2.5" in 1948||1894 to 2009|
The map below displays storm total snowfall reported between Dec. 7th-Dec. 9th. Please note that due to extensive blowing and drifting, this snow was difficult to measure and obtain an "exact" amount at any one location. That being said, it is noteworthy that unlike a lot of snow events, this one featured a fairly uniform coverage of 7-11 inch totals across nearly the entire NWS Hastings forecast area.
(Storm Total Snowfall Dec. 7th-Dec. 9th)
Listed below are a number of STORM TOTAL snowfall reports from National Weather Service Cooperative Observers around south central Nebraska and north central Kansas, as of 8 AM Wednesday morning, Dec. 9th. This list includes all snowfall reported between Monday afternoon and early Wednesday morning.
|New Snow Amount (inches)||Location||Source of Report|
|12.0"||Franklin, NE||Law Enforcement|
|12.0"||Phillipsburg, KS||Law Enforcement|
|12.0"||Red Cloud, NE||Law Enforcement|
|12.0"||Alma, NE||Law Enforcement|
|11.1"||Henderson, NE||Trained Spotter|
|11.0"||Stockton, KS||Law Enforcement|
|10.0"||Nelson, NE||Law Enforcement|
|10.0"||York, NE||Law Enforcement|
|10.0"||Central City, NE||Law Enforcement|
|10.0"||St. Paul, NE||Law Enforcement|
|9.0"||Aurora, NE||Law Enforcement|
|8.0"||Minden, NE||Law Enforcement|
|5.0"||Gothenburg, NE||Law Enforcement|
As the primary surface low pressure system gained considerable strength during the afternoon and especially evening hours on Dec. 8th, northwest winds really got going across all of south central Nebraska and north central Kansas, resulting in several hours of sustained speeds in excess of 30 MPH, and gusts to almost 50 MPH. Listed below are some of the peak wind gusts measured at area airports:
The image below depicts a surface weather map from 1130 PM on Dec. 8th centered on the Central Plains, and shows the primary driving mechanism for the strengthening northwest winds. The blue colors on the map represent lower pressure, while the green and orange colors represent higher pressure. State borders are outlined in gray. On the far right side of the image, the closed yellow lines (isobars) depict a deepening 986 millibar low pressure center over western Illinois. Due to the increasing pressure difference between the low pressure center over Illinois, and higher pressure farther west toward south central Nebraska and north central Kansas, winds steadily ramped up. Put another way, the more tightly isobars (yellow lines) are packed together, the stronger the winds will generally be. Although it is somewhat hard to see in this image, the observation at Central Nebraska Regional Airport in Grand Island is reporting a northwest wind gusting to 38 knots (44 MPH) at this time.
|This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.|