Record Snowfall For Dec. 8 at Grand Island/Hastings - See Full Event Summary Here

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:

 Snowfall:

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.

  • Regarding the all-time records at Grand Island , the Dec. 8th snowfall of 9.7" ranked as the 18th-highest calendar day snowfall ever, falling well short of the top total of 17.8" measured on March 20, 2006.
  • However, looking just at December daily snowfall records, the 9.7" on Dec. 8th ranked as the 4th-highest total on record, with 11.1" on Dec. 14, 1974 holding the top spot. Precipitation records in Grand Island date to 1895.

 

  • At Hastings, the Dec. 8th total of 10.5" tied for the 9th-highest calendar day snowfall ever, again falling well short of the top total of 17.4" measured on March 20, 2006.
  • However, looking just at December daily snowfall records, the 10.5" on Dec. 8th ranked as the 2nd-highest total on record, trailing only 11.0 inches on Dec. 14, 1974. Precipitation records in Hastings date to 1894.

City Storm Total Snowfall

Snowfall

Tuesday  12/8/09

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.

 

 

While the reports listed above are from NWS Cooperative Observers, additional reports in the table below contain estimates from local law enforcement agencies around 10 PM Tuesday evening, Dec. 8th. Please note that some of these estimates may include snow that had already fallen during a previous, lighter snow event on Sunday, Dec. 6th.

Snowfall Reports as of 10:00 P.M. Tuesday, Dec. 8th

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

 

Strong Winds:

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.


           (Click on image below to enlarge)

 

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.


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