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Weather Alert extended to Tuesday morning due to dangerous wind chills

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 3:36 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2021 at 4:28 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Monday (2/15/21): Due to the ongoing concern with dangerously-low wind chills continuing through Monday night into Tuesday morning, Storm Team 12 has extended its Weather Alert until 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Storm Team12 Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen said it looks like wind chills will be 20 to 30 degrees below zero through at least 10 or 11 a.m. Tuesday, but should improve once we reach Tuesday afternoon.

With the dangerous cold comes another day for school closures or moves to remote learning. Among the notable closures, Wichita State University on Monday afternoon announced that it will be closed Tuesday due to inclement weather and potential power outages.

“Because power outages may impact instructors’ and students’ access to Blackboard and the internet, all classes – including in-person, remote, hybrid, Zoom and asynchronous – are canceled,” the university said.

Newman University announced that it is moving all Wichita campus classes online and moving all faculty and staff to remote work on Tuesday. Cowley County Community College is also among schools moving to remote learning on Tuesday.

In response to the need to conserve energy, Textron Aviation announced that all of its Kansas facilities will be closed Tuesday.

“Second shift employees who have already reported to work on Monday, February 15 will complete their shift. Office and support personnel who can work from home are being asked to vacate facilities immediately as energy conservation has already begun,” the company announced in a Monday-afternoon news release.

You can find a full list of closings for schools, businesses and organizations here: Weather closings across Kansas.

While the snow tapered off Monday afternoon, the record cold creates added challenges for the Kansas Department of Transportation and city crews working to clear roads and highways. KDOT says when it’s this cold, salt and sand mix is not effective.

“When it’s this cold, salt just doesn’t work,” said KDOT Public Affairs Manager Tom Hein. Salt might melt the top layer, but then it will just refreeze. So we just aren’t putting down salt. We haven’t for days now. We are just plowing. It will eventually get better, but I don’t know what day to make that promise.”

Heading into Monday evening, snowplow drivers continue working 12-hour shifts to clear streets and interstates, but road conditions are still dangerous.

Sunday (2/14/21) midday update: So far, we’ve had about 2-5″ of snow accumulation reported in south central Kansas. As snow continues to fall into the evening, these totals will continue to increase. Most of the additional accumulation throughout the day will be in central and eastern Kansas, tapering off by early Monday morning.

Wind chills throughout the day have been around -15 to -25 and that is expected to continue through the rest of the day as well. This could cause frostbite on exposed skin within 10 minutes. These dangerous wind chills will continue into Monday, even after the snow ends.

Snow through noon
Snow through noon(Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher)

Sunday (2/14/21) morning update: Meteorologist Dean Jones says snowfall this morning has produced between 2-5″ of snow across Kansas with more on the way through the rest of the day. Total accumulations of 3-5 inches will be most common across the state with lesser amounts across northern Kansas. The heaviest snowfall will occur across extreme south-central and southeast Kansas, where some could pick up 5-8″ of snow through Monday morning. Snow will wind down in Wichita around 4-5 PM, however, flurries may continue through the night. Dangerous wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero are expected by Monday morning.

Saturday (2/13/21) evening update: Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher says snow will begin in western Kansas around 5-6 p.m. on Saturday. This will move to the east, taking over the western half of the state by midnight. Overnight, into early Sunday morning, snow will move into central and eastern Kansas. By 6 a.m. Sunday, snow will be possible across the entire state. By 6 p.m. Sunday, snow will end for western Kansas. We’ll have off and on snow showers for central and eastern Kansas overnight into early Monday morning. By noon on Monday, snow will end for any part of our viewing area.

Snow totals will reach 2-4″ from Salina into northeastern Kansas. Most of the state will receive around 4-7″ of snow, with 7-10″ possible along the state line with Colorado and Nebraska.

Wind chills will be dangerous over the next few days as well. We’ll have wind chills around -15 to -20 on Sunday with highs in single digits. Wind chills Monday and Tuesday morning will be around -20 to -30. With highs staying around 5 to 10 degrees.

We’ll gradually get warmer next week with highs in the teens Wednesday, the 20s Thursday, the 30s Friday, and the 40s next weekend.

Saturday (2/13/21) Midday Update: Sunshine peeks through the clouds across parts of central Kansas...ahead of an approaching storm system currently moving through the Rockies. This weather system will begin to impact Kansas weather tonight with increasing clouds and chances for snow. Snowfall amounts should be the heaviest across far western and extreme southern Kansas where 7-10″ of snow is possible. Winter Storm Warnings have been issued for the following counties: Barber, Comanche, Clark, Meade, Seward, Stevens and Morton.

Winter Weather Advisory covers the remainder of the state. Most of central and western Kansas has the potential to see 4-7″ of snow accumulation through Sunday afternoon with the bulk of the heavier snow falling between 3am and Noon Sunday morning. To add insult to injury, wind speeds will increase tonight and Sunday producing wind chills that can cause frost-bite in a matter of minutes. Wind chills will be the worst in the morning hours dropping to 20-30 below zero through Tuesday. Snow, while heavy at times will have a low water content, a ratio of about 20:1 meaning 5 inches of snow, melted to water would generate about 0.25″ of liquid. Blowing and drifting snow is possible with low visibility- driving may be treacherous at times.

Friday (2/12/21) night: With sub-freezing temperatures and snowfall on top of already frozen ground, road conditions over the weekend could deteriorate quickly. Looking ahead, there are closures across Kansas for churches on Sunday morning and schools on Monday with some shifting to remote learning and others having the day off. Wichita State University is among those closing Monday due to the inclement weather. You can find a full list of closings here: Weather closings across Kansas.

Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher says the next round of snow will move into western Kansas Saturday afternoon and blow into central Kansas by late Saturday night. The heaviest snowfall is expected through much of Sunday. The snow will finally taper off by about noon Monday, for the KWCH viewing area. Before it’s over, pretty much all of the southern half of Kansas could see seven to 10 inches of accumulated. This includes Dodge City and Garden City in the west and Hutchinson and Wichita in central/south central Kansas.

Expected precipitation Friday night into Saturday is lower impact with light snow for most of the state.

Looking ahead to what’s forecast for the weekend into early next week, City of Wichita Interim Public Works Director Ben Nelson said “this is somewhat of an unprecedented situation.”

“I don’t know if we’ve had anything like this in the past,” he said of the extended stretch of sub-freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall that’s expected. “So we have concerns about street conditions deteriorating rapidly.”

While crews will be out to clear to keep city streets as clear as they can, many across the Wichita metro area are planning to stay home for a few days. With that, Friday was a busy day for grocery stores as shoppers stocked upon essentials to wait out the storm.

Kathy Winn was among those stocking up on groceries Friday at Leeker’s in Park City. She said she plans to stay home at least until next Tuesday.

Friday (2/12/21) afternoon: Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher says snow and dangerous wind chills will take over Kansas this weekend into the start of the next work week.

Tonight, lows will drop to around -5 to 5. When you factor in the wind, it’s going to feel more like -15 to -20 early Saturday morning. Light snow will be possible overnight, mainly along the state line with Nebraska. Flurries will be possible for the rest of the state into early Saturday.

Saturday afternoon, highs will be around 5 to 15. Once again, with the wind, it’s going to feel more like 0 to -5 in the afternoon. Our next, better chance for accumulating snow will arrive Saturday evening for some of us.

Snow will begin in western Kansas around 6 p.m. on Saturday. It will move to the east, closer to the I-135 corridor by midnight. Overnight, it will expand to cover the entire state. That will continue through most of the day on Sunday. By around 5 p.m. Sunday, snow will begin to taper off for the west, but it will linger for central Kansas (especially south central) through Monday morning. Snow chances will come to an end for our area around noon on Monday.

By the time the snow wraps up, 4 to 7 inches will be possible along and north of I-70 (except for the northeast, where totals will be around 2 to 4 inches) and 7 to 10 inches for areas south of I-70.

Highs will be in single digits this weekend with wind chills staying well below zero, especially early in the morning and late in the evening.

Monday and Tuesday morning wind chills will be around -20 to -30 with afternoon wind chills around -5 to -15. With the deteriorating weather comes several closures for churches on Sunday morning and either cancelations or moves to remote learning for several school districts. Wichita State University also announced that its closing Monday due to inclement weather. You can find a full list here: Weather closings across Kansas.

Friday (2/12/21) mid-day: The predicted snowfall forecast for Sunday/Monday remains steady with seven to 10 inches expected across the southern half of Kansas with four to seven inches in the north. A smaller area stretching from north of Concordia, east is expected to get two to four inches by Monday afternoon.

The weather alert days for Friday through Monday remain in effect with the upcoming snow accompanying well below freezing temperatures and wind chills that by Sunday morning, will dep well below zero. The stretch of cold weather continues through next Thursday, but highs are expected to return to the 20s by the middle of next week. Looking at the tail end of the 10-day forecast, relief is in sight with a return to a mostly sunny sky and a high above freezing for next Friday (Feb. 19) and highs back into the 40s for next weekend (Feb. 20 and 21).

Friday (2/12/21) morning: Meteorologist Jake Dunne says colder temperatures plus a stronger breeze has put all of Kansas into the danger zone regarding wind chills. Out the door feels like temperatures between -10 and -20 degrees means frostbite is possible in 20 to 30 minutes.

The wind picks up this weekend and with even colder temperatures coming to Kansas, wind chills will become a major concern. Feels like temperatures, especially at night and during the morning will slip to -20, or colder on Saturday and Sunday which makes frostbite possible in less than twenty minutes. On Monday morning, wind chills will fall to 30, if not 40 degrees below zero making frostbite possible in a matter of minutes.

The first of two weather makers will arrive this afternoon into Saturday morning. An inch or two of snow looks likely and a brisk breeze will blow the snow around reducing visibility. Travel will be difficult on Saturday and worse on Sunday.

After a brief break in the snowfall on Saturday afternoon/evening, round two rolls in Saturday night and lasts through Monday morning. This event will last longer and be much stronger than the first one. Central and southern Kansas will see up to ten inches of snow by Monday morning while northern Kansas picks up half a foot of accumulation. Between the dangerous wind chills and heavy snowfall, travel is not advised Sunday, Sunday night, and Monday.

When will the intense cold end? Unfortunately, it is going to be a while. By the middle of next week, we should get close to freezing followed by much warmer temperatures toward the end of the month.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

With a stretch of sub-freezing temperatures unlike much of Kansas has seen in years, Storm Team 12 is issuing Weather Alert Days over the weekend into Monday for a winter storm on the way, followed by the coldest air we’ve seen this season with dangerous wind chills well below zero.

Storm Team 12 is issuing the Weather Alert statewide Friday through Sunday for a winter storm expected to dump snow on several areas. Storm Team 12 Chief Meteorologist Ross Janssen said most of the snow will fall Sunday and Monday, especially across western and southern Kansas. A trace to two inches is expected for most of Kansas on Friday and Saturday.

Come Sunday into Monday, Ross said parts of the southern half of Kansas could see at least seven inches of snow, on top of what’s already on the ground and what will fall at the start of the weekend.

“Farther north, especially north of I-70, I would expect at least 3-6 (inches) in the Sunday/Monday timeframe,” Ross said.

The wind-chills for Sunday night into Monday could drop to 20 or 30 below zero for much of the state, including the Wichita area. With the arctic that began nearly a week ago, many wonder why it’s so cold for so long and when we’ll finally snap out of it.

“The cold air has been pushed up against the Rockies with no place to go,” Ross explained on his blog Thursday morning. “And our winds have been out of the northeast, continuing to funnel the cold air right into the region. We’ve also had an upper low spinning near the Great Lakes, which continues to push the bitter cold south. It’s almost like the perfect storm of cold weather.”

This is something, Ross said he hasn’t seen in his 20 years of professionally forecasting weather in Kansas.

The coldest air will hit Sunday into Monday when the high pressure slides into Nebraska and Iowa.

“That’s when we have a strong chance of seeing record lows Monday morning and maybe even Tuesday morning,” Ross said. Once the high pushes east of us, we will begin to scale back the cold little by little. What will temper the upward trend is the snow cover.”

The extended, 10-day forecast shows a return to the 20s next Thursday (Feb. 18), breaking the freezing point for an afternoon high next Friday (Feb. 19) and warming back up into the mid 40s for an afternoon high next Saturday (Feb. 20).

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