By: Phil Hysell
Up to a foot of snow and ice hits central and southcentral Kansas.
A potent upper level storm system moved across the southwestern United States on Thursday. Well to the east of this system, strong southerly winds transported abundant low level moisture and warm air above the cool surface.This produced freezing rain and sleet across central and portions of south central Kansas (mainly west of Wichita) Thursday morning and afternoon. For those locations from Wichita eastward, surface temperatures above freezing allowed the precipitation to initially fall as rain. As the upper system approached Kansas, it brought colder temperatures aloft, which helped destabilize the atmosphere. This instability allowed thunder to accompany the snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain. By Thursday night, the ice in central and portions of south central Kansas changed to snow, and the rain in south central Kansas changed to sleet and freezing rain. Many locations reported one-half inch of ice accumulation resulting in treacherous driving conditions, downed trees and power lines. In southeast Kansas, the precipitation remained liquid through much of Thursday night, but many locations received one to two and one-half inches of rainfall that caused a rise in area rivers and streams. Despite the precipitation ending Friday morning, travel conditions were still near impossible across much of central Kansas due to howling north winds at 25 to 35 MPH. These brutal winds produced wind chill values as low as 30 below zero in Russell, and caused blowing and drifting of snow. Many observers in central Kansas reported visibilities less than one block due to the blowing snow, and snow drifts over 3 feet tall! For a map showing snowfall totals, see image 1.