By: Jim Caruso
A Winter storm struck late Saturday into Sunday morning, producing heavy snowfall and damaging accumulations of ice across central and south central Kansas.
Energy from a strong upper level storm system over the Southwestern United States, ejected northeastward across the Kansas region Saturday evening into Sunday morning (27th-28th). A shallow cold airmass was already in place across central and southeast Kansas. As the energy moved through, warm and moist Gulf of Mexico air was drawn northward up and over the cold airmass at the surface (see image 1 for an Infrared satellite image of the storm). This created a wintry mix of precipitation which began Saturday evening and persisted into much of Sunday.Across central Kansas, predominately heavy snowfall occurred along and west of a line from Arlington to Marquette, to Glendale where accumulations ranged from 6 to 12 inches. An isolated area of 14 inches of snowfall was reported in Barton County in the towns of Hoisington and Hetzer (see image 2 for a radar image). The heaviest snow accumulations occurred between 8 pm cst Saturday evening and 5 am cst Sunday morning (see image 3). In south central and southeast Kansas, however, the cold airmass near the surface was much more shallow. This allowed for a mixture of snow, sleet, and freezing rain Saturday night in the south central areas, which changed to primarily sleet and freezing rain Sunday. Ice accumulations were the big story here with around 1/2 inch of icing on mainly trees, overpasses, powerlines, and other elevated, exposed surfaces. In southeastern Kansas, freezing rain Saturday night changed over to all rain by Sunday morning. Again, icing was a problem mainly west of Highway 75. The 1/2 inch of icing resulted in numerous vehicle accidents and scattered power outages across south central and portions of southeastern Kansas from late Saturday night into Sunday. In reference to the Wichita Eagle newspaper from Monday January 29th, 2001, about 16,300 homes in Wichita and 2,589 homes in El Dorado had the power knocked out, due to felled powerlines. The city of Maize lost power around 4:20 am Sunday, and power was restored around Noon Sunday. A nine car accident was reported on Kellogg Sunday morning, with numerous other accidents in the region. The heaviest precipitation had tapered off significantly by Sunday afternoon. However, the same storm system, brought additional light wintry precipitation to central and southeastern Kansas Sunday night into Monday, as it lifted out of the Southwestern United States and over Kansas. A fresh one to three inches of snow fell Monday morning across the eastern part of central Kansas and the northern part of south central Kansas. Highest accumulations were two and one-half inches at Salina in Saline County and 3 inches at Tampa in Marion County.