The details on our first winter storm are coming together. Winter Storm WARNINGS, Winter Storm Watches and Winter Weather Advisories are in place for a good chunk of the state starting late Friday night and lasting through much of Saturday.
On top of that, we are expecting bitter cold to plague the state, especially western Kansas for Saturday. Wind Chill Advisories are in place.
Most of Friday is going to stay dry. We will pull in slightly warmer air for the southern portion of the state during the day. Some could even bump up to the 60 degree mark. A sharp cold front will begin to work its way into the state, leaving those in northern Kansas a bit cooler in the 40s. This cold front is going to act as a boundary for our next storm system to ride tonight into Saturday.
This specific weekend storm is brewing over the Rocky mountains right now. It is what we call a “Colorado Low” and will begin to slowly work its way into western Kansas starting Friday night. Once it begins to work in, all precipitation types are expected as our air will still be relatively warm.
The initial trend is for a rain, freezing rain and sleet mix, with snow staying farther north where colder air will be in place. As the initial wave of moisture rolls through, it will grow in coverage. This wintry mess will be with us through most of the overnight hours, heading into early Saturday.
Once we clear into Saturday, our temperatures plummet. This will allow for a transition to mostly snow for a good chunk of Kansas. This storm will move from west to east.
Those in western Kansas should see precipitation first, but it will clear your area sooner on Saturday. All of us are precipitation free by late Saturday night.
The northern tier of Kansas should deal with mostly snow, very heavy at times. Winds will be strong, so blowing snow is likely. Travel along interstate 70 WILL be greatly impacted.
I think that from I-70 to the Kansas/Nebraska state line will have some of our highest snowfall totals, potentially exceeding 8 inches, with most seeing at least 3 to 5 inches. This likely starts as a heavy and wet snow, but as our temperatures drop, our snow should become a bit more powdery. A healthy mix of 1 to 3 inches will be found into southwest Kansas and far western Kansas. Those closer to Wichita will have to deal with a mixed bag of rain to sleet/freezing rain and then snow. This will hinder snow totals in the metro, likely falling between a dusting to 1 inch. The farther south you are, the more precipitation types you can expect, with lower snow totals.
A big concern with those along and east of the Kansas Turnpike will be ICE. Freezing rain and sleet totals could exceed a quarter to half an inch in spots, especially east of the Turnpike. This is going to make for very dangerous travel as freezing rain creates black ice almost instantly. If you are traveling Saturday, do so cautiously. Make sure you have some supplies in your car in case of emergency.
Wind Chills are going to be a huge concern as well. Our temperatures fall during the day on Saturday, mostly staying in the teens, and the wind is going to be strong out of the north between 15 and 30 mph, with higher gusts.
Wind chills will be dangerously low, mainly below zero for most of the day Saturday. Western Kansas could fall to as low as -20. Frigid air locks in for Saturday night, as snow tapers off our clouds clear a bit and lows drop to the single digits.
Our temperatures rebound a bit on Sunday, but only to the low 30s. With some sunshine in place, this will help melt some of the weekend precipitation. 40s return Monday and Tuesday, so this will continue the melting trend. I am seeing signs of temperatures bouncing around from the 40s to the 20s late next week.
We will watch the potential for another, quicker, storm system on Thursday. This could highlight northern Kansas, but details are still coming together.
AS ALWAYS, stay with the KSN Storm Track 3 team for updates as we inch closer. Snow fall totals will be adjusted as necessary. – Meteorologist Warren Sears