Winter Weather Awareness
for Southeast Kansas and the Missouri Ozarks

Outlook  | Extreme Cold  | Safety  |  Products  | Winter Precipitation

Join Us In Promoting Winter Weather Awareness Day Nov. 16th, 2011

The National Weather Service (NWS), along with the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Highway Patrol, and the Dept of Health and Senior Services has designated November 16, 2011 as Missouri Winter Weather Awareness. Are  you prepared for winter storms? As the Ozarks region has experienced, winter storms can be devastating. Winter Weather can change drastically across the Ozarks and southeast Kansas from mild temperatures and thunderstorms to bitter cold and snow within hours. To make matters worse, the rugged terrain makes winter weather conditions even more treacherous.

A heavy accumulation of ice can down telephone poles and lines, trees, electrical wires, and communication towers. Power and communications may be disrupted for days. Heavy snow can immobilize the region and paralyze communities, stranding commuters, preventing the flow of supplies, and disrupting emergency and medical services. In rural areas, homes and farms may be isolated for days, and unprotected livestock may be lost.  The crippling impact of a major winter storm was evidenced last winter during the Blizzard of February 1st, 2011.

snow map

 A good idea before winter arrives is to prepare a winter storm plan and disaster supplies kit.  Check out these resources for more information on preparing disaster preparedness kits:

 Check out our Winter Weather Page for winter weather outlooks and forecasts.

Winter Weather Outlook

temperature outlook           precipitation outlook

Take a look at Snowfall Statistics for Springfield, Joplin, West Plains and Rolla. Snowfall total maps from the past five winters.

2010-2011 2009-2010 2008-2009 2007-2008 2006-2007
 snow map snow accumulation 2008-2009 winter 2007-2008 snowfall total 2006-2007 Snow Totals
2005-2006 2004-2005 2003-2004 2002-2003 2001-2002
2005-2006 Snow Totals 2004-2005 snow 2003-2004 snow 2002-2003 snow 2001-2002 snow

GIS Snowfall Data

For a look at daily snowfall across the country go to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. This interactive site allows you to view a varitey of snowfall data including snow depth that can be viewed in GIS viewers. For more information on available GIS data go to

Winter Safety & Preparation

  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
  • Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
    • a shovel
    • windshield scraper and small broom
    • flashlight
    • battery powered radio
    • extra batteries
    • water
    • snack food
    • matches
    • extra hats, socks and mittens
    • First aid kit with pocket knife
    • Necessary medications
    • blanket(s)
    • tow chain or rope
    • road salt and sand
    • booster cables
    • emergency flares
    • fluorescent distress flag
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, consider the following:
  • Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Travel in the day, don’t travel alone, and keep others informed of your schedule.
  • Stay on main roads; avoid back road shortcuts.

NWS Winter Weather Safey Page

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 


Missouri State Emergency Management Agency

More safety information can be found at the following links:

Winter storms are considered deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People die in traffic accidents on icy roads and from hypothermia due to prolonged exposure to cold.

During the historic ice storm of January 12-14, 2007 several indirect fatalities due to the extreme elements were documented. Carbon monoxide poisoning occurred within a few homes as gas generators were being used in garages, which allowed for dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to seep into houses.  

 Deaths related to ice and snow:

  • 70% occur in automobiles
  • 25% are people caught out in the storm
  • Majority are males > 40 years old

Deaths related to exposure to cold:

  • 50% are people over 60 years old
  • 75% are males
  • 20% occur in the home

Cold Weather Disorders Which Require Immediate Medical Attention

Frostbite occurs when skin becomes cold enough to actually freeze. A loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in the extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the nose are symptoms of frostbite.

Hypothermia can occur during longer periods of exposure when the body temperature drops below 95F. A person will become disoriented, confused and shiver uncontrollably, eventually leading to drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. In severe cases, death is possible.

School Safety

Children can be especially susceptible to the dangers associated with winter weather. Their youthful enthusiasm often takes over when common sense and safety should prevail. School administrators and principals need to be sensitive to the dangers winter weather can pose to children and be prepared. Winter weather procedures and practices need to be established before the onset of winter cold. The following items should be considered when formulating a winter weather safety plan:

All schools should have ready access to current weather information. If the school is in a county covered by NOAA Weather Radio, that would be the best source. Commercial radio or television can also be monitored. Arrangements can also be made with local law enforcement agencies to have critical winter weather forecasts relayed to the school. All schools need to have a functional plan in regard to closures due to snow, ice, or extreme cold.

School bus drivers should receive extra training on driving during winter weather. Snow and ice can often accumulate quickly and unexpectedly on roads creating dangerous driving conditions. Bus drivers should also be able to recognize signs of frostbite or hypothermia. 

With many households having two working parents today, it may be necessary for some children to be brought to school early. Schools should make provisions to allow children inside school buildings as early as possible during cold weather.

Road Conditions & Safety

Missouri  |   ArkansasKansasIowa  |  Kentucky  |   Nebraska |   Oklahoma |   llinois  |  Tennessee

Missouri Department of Transportation Safety Tips   

  To avoid the dangers of winter storms:

  • Avoid over exertion

  • Wear layers of loose fitting warm clothing

  • Have a winter storm survival kit in your home and vehicles, and be sure to receive the latest weather information from the NWS.

  • Be aware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Never use generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window.

Extreme Cold 

Extreme cold is one of the leading weather related causes of death in Missouri. Since 1990, 130 lives have been lost due to extreme cold.   An often overlooked danger is wind chill. The wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Animals are also effected by wind chill.

Source: Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). For more information on cold weather safety, statistics, etc, visit the DHSS website.

Year 97-98 98-99 99-00 00-01 01-02
Deaths 7 7 12 19 11

  03-04 04-05 05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 10-11
Deaths 25 20 22 36 27 27 27 27

Since the DHSS surveillance program began in Missouri during the winter of 1979-1980, there have been 562 deaths in which hypothermia was a factor.

The wind chill shows how cold the wind makes exposed flesh feel and is a good way to determine the threat of frostbite or hypothermia.  For a quick look at forecast wind chill, to our Wind Chill Page. 


The combined effects of wind and temperature can be measured using the following Wind Chill chart.  Click here for more wind chill information.


wind chill chart

 Calculate the wind chill factor

 Winter Products

Check out our Winter Weather Briefing Page for winter weather outlooks and forecasts. For a quick look at forecast wind chill, to our Wind Chill Page.

To advise you of hazardous winter weather, your National Weather Service will issue the following products . . .

Winter Storm Watch: Severe winter weather including heavy snow, ice storm, blizzard, dangerous wind chills, or a combination of these items. Issued 12 to 48 hours in advance.


Winter Storm Warning: Significant and possibly life-threatening severe winter weather will occur, or is about to begin. Issued within 12 to 18 hours of conditions. Including...

  • A combination of significant snow ( > 3") and ice accumulations (> 1/8") that create dangerous and life threatening conditions.
  • Heavy snow accumulation of 6" or greater causing dangerous and potentially damaging situation such as treacherous travel conditions.

Ice Storm Warning: Heavy ice accumulation, generally greater than 1/4 of an inches  thick, causing dangerous and damaging situations, such as downed utility lines and icy roads.

Blizzard Warning: Wind at least 35 mph with falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to under ¼ mile for at least three hours.

High Wind Warning: Wind gusts 58 mph and higher or sustained winds at 40 mph and higher, for at least an hour.

Wind Chill Warning: Wind Chill values colder than 25 below zero.


Winter Weather Advisory: Any combination of winter events that cause significant inconvenience, but probably not life-threatening when caution is exercised. Including...

  • Combination of 1 to 5 inches of snow, light sleet or freezing drizzle, some blowing and/or drifting snow etc…
  • New snowfall of 2 to 5 inches is expected.

Wind Chill Advisory: Wind chills of 15 below to 25 below zero.

Freezing Rain Advisory: Light ice coating on roads and highways, but no damage is expected to trees/power lines.

Wind Advisory: Sustained winds between 31 and 40 mph.

Dense Fog Advisory: Widespread fog with visibility under ¼ mile.



Hazardous Weather Outlook daily at 6 AM & 1 PM to highlight the potential of hazardous weather including winter storms, severe storms and flooding.

 See the graphical hazardous weather outlook.


Winter Precipitation




Freezing Rain

Cloud temperature is cold enough to form snow and the air above the ground does not melt it.

Flurries: Light snow falling for short durations. No accumulation.

Showers: Snow falling at varying intensities for brief periods of time. Some accumulation is possible.

Squalls: Brief, intense snow showers accompanied by strong, gusty winds. Accumulation may be significant. Snow squalls are best known in the Great Lakes region.

Blowing Snow: Wind driven-snow that reduces visibility and causes significant drifting. Blowing snow is mostly loose snow on the
ground that is picked up by the wind.

Blizzard: Winds at least 35 mph with snow and blowing snow reducing visibility to 1/4 mile or less.

Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a surface and does not stick to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorist.

Rain that falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing. This causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as trees, cars, and roads, forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.





















 “Great Blue Norther” Centennial (11-11-11)

Next Friday, November 11, 2011, will mark the 100th anniversary of the “Great Blue Norther” that affected much of the Midwest.

The “Great Blue Norther” was an arctic outbreak of historic magnitude that produced dramatic changes in the weather in a short period of time from Minnesota to Missouri and Oklahoma. From an article published by National Weather Service meteorologist Drew Albert in 2003 and updated by meteorologists Gene Hatch and Ryan Kardell. On November 11, 1911, the central U.S. experienced one of the most dramatic cold waves to affect the United States. 

The term "blue norther" is most commonly associated with Texas. Various other names for the same phenomenon exist over the central and southern Plains. There are also various theories as to the exact origin of the term. In general, it is associated with a rapidly moving cold front (usually in the Autumn) that causes temperatures to drop quickly and often brings with it precipitation and unsettled weather, followed by a period of blue skies and very cold temperatures. 

During the early morning hours on the 11th, a deep Midwestern storm system, along with an associated arctic cold front, separated unseasonably warm and humid air from arctic cold. Temperatures ranged from the upper 60s and lower 70s over Missouri to the single digits in central Nebraska.

As the day progressed, record warmth was felt across much of Missouri and Oklahoma. In Kansas City, the temperature rose to a record high of 76 degrees by late morning before the arctic front moved in from the northwest. Skies became overcast, winds shifted to the northwest, and the mercury began to plummet. By early afternoon, it was cold enough to snow, and by midnight the temperature had dipped to a record cold reading of 11 degrees above zero.

In Springfield, the effects of the front were even more dramatic. Afternoon temperatures had reached record high levels by 2:00 to 3:00 pm when the mercury reached 80 degrees. South winds increased to a sustained 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph. The wind shifted to the northwest at 3:45 pm dropping the temperature to 40 degrees by 4:00 pm. The temperature continued to plummet to 20 degrees by 7 pm. Finally by midnight, a record low of 13 degrees was established. The temperature fell to 9 degrees above zero during the early morning hours on November 12th. November 11, 1911, marks the only day in the Springfield, Missouri, climate record where a record high and low temperature exist on the same day.

The extreme cold was only part of the story. The huge storm also brought damaging wind. The following were notes taken by John S. Hazen, the weatherman-in-charge at Springfield in 1911:

 "Increasing S to SW winds shifting to the NW at 3:45 pm and attaining an ex.(extreme)velocity of 74 miles for one minute. Considerable damage done to buildings, wires, and trees. Many windows blown in and several people injured. Record high temp. occurred about 2 pm and low temp for this early in the month. Temp fell from 80 to 21 at 7 pm. Cold wave order received and given usual distribution. Hail, sleet, rain, and snow fell. First thunder 4:52 pm. Last 6:10 pm. Storms came from north."

The rest of the Midwest was affected by the storm. Oklahoma City also established a record high of 83 degrees and record low of 17 degrees. Many areas saw the temperature plummet 50 degrees in one hour. The front produced severe thunderstorms and tornadoes across the upper Mississippi Valley, a blizzard in the Ohio Valley and the upper Midwest, and a dust storm in Oklahoma. Nine tornadoes occurred in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. An F4 tornado occurred in Janesville, Wisconsin, where 9 people were killed and 50 were injured. Within an hour after that tornado struck, survivors were working in blizzard conditions with near zero degree temperatures to rescue people trapped in tornado damage debris.

Additional information on the historic event is available at the following web address or by contacting Gene Hatch or Ryan Kardell at the National Weather Service Office in Springfield, Mo. at 417-863-8028.

From: National Weather Service, Springfield, MO Gene Hatch/Ryan Kardall Meteorologists is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.