News and Tribune

Recent Local News

February 21, 2013

Winter weather headed to the area

Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain all in the mix; storm batters other parts of U.S.

LOUISVILLE — Southern Indiana should see rain, sleet, snow and possibly freezing rain as a winter storm moves into the area this afternoon.

A Winter Weather Advisory has been issued for Clark, Floyd and surrounding counties from 6 p.m. today through 1 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Precipitation is expected to start late this afternoon and begin as a mix of rain, sleet and snow which will then briefly change to freezing rain in the evening. Warmer air is forecast to move in after midnight and precipitation will change to rain, according to the NWS. Slick spots are expected on roadways and some icing will be possible on elevated surfaces.

The high Friday is expected to be about 55 with a 50 percent chance of rain before 10 a.m. Weekend highs are forecast in the mid-40s.

IT’S MUCH WORSE ELSEWHERE

Blinding snow, at times accompanied by thunder and lightning, bombarded much of the nation’s midsection today, causing whiteout conditions, shutting down large swaths of interstate highways and forcing schools, businesses and even state legislatures to close.

Kansas was the epicenter of the winter storm, with parts of the state buried under 14 inches of powdery snow, but winter storm warnings stretched from eastern Colorado through Illinois. Freezing rain and sleet were forecast for Southern Missouri, Southern Illinois and Arkansas. St. Louis received all of the above — a treacherous mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Several accidents were blamed on icy and slushy roadways, including two fatal accidents. Most schools in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states, were closed. Legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

“Thundersnow” accompanied the winter storm in parts of Kansas and Missouri, which National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said is the result of an unstable air mass, much like a thunderstorm.

“Instead of pouring rain, it’s pouring snow,” Truett said. And pouring was a sound description, with snow falling at a rate of 1 1/2 to 2 inches per hour in some spots. Kansas City, Mo., got 5 inches in two hours.

Snow totals passed the foot mark in many places: Monarch Pass, Colo., had 17  1/2 inches, Hutchinson, Kan., 14 inches and Wichita, Kan., 13 inches. The National Weather Service said up to 18 inches of snow were possible in central Kansas.

With that in mind, Kansas transportation officials — and even the governor — urged people to simply stay home.

Drivers were particularly warned away from the Kansas Turnpike, which had whiteout conditions. Interstate 70 was also snow-packed and a 90-mile stretch of that road was closed between Salina and Hays.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback closed executive offices, except for essential personnel.

“If you don’t have to get out, just really, please, don’t do it,” Brownback said.

Travelers filled hotels rather than skating across dangerous roadways. At the Econo Lodge in WaKeeney, Kan., assistant manager Michael Tidball said the 48-room hotel was full by 10 p.m. Wednesday and that most guests were opting to stay an extra day.

Just south of Wichita, near the small community of Clearwater, Scott Van Allen had already shoveled the sidewalks Thursday and was out on his tractor clearing the driveway of the 10 inches of snow — just in case he might need to go out. For once, he didn’t mind the task.

“I kind of enjoyed it this time,” he said. “We were certainly needing the moisture terribly.”

The storm brought moisture to a region of the country that has been parched for nearly a year, engulfed in the worst drought in decades. Climatologists say 12 inches of snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain, depending on the density of the snow.

Vance Ehmke, a wheat farmer near Healy, Kan., said the nearly foot of snow was “what we have been praying for.”

“The big question is, ‘Is the drought broke?’ “ Ehmke asked. “We desperately need this.”

Near Edwardsville, Ill., wheat farmer Mike Campbell called the snow — or any precipitation — a blessing after a bone-dry growing season in 2012. He hopes it is a good omen as he prepares to plant corn this spring.

“The corn was just a disaster,” Campbell said.

In Colorado, the U.S. Forest Service planned to take advantage of the snow to burn piles of dead trees on federal land.

Near the Nebraska-Kansas border, as much as 8 inches fell overnight, while western Nebraska saw about half of that amount, National Weather Service forecaster Shawn Jacobs said.

Areas in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle also had up to 8 inches of snow by Thursday morning. Christy Walker, a waitress at the Polly Anna Cafe in Woodward, Okla., got stuck on her drive into work. But business in the Western Oklahoma town was brisk, she said.

“It’s affecting everybody who is hungry and wants to come out to eat,” she said. “I’m extremely busy right now.”

Elsewhere, Arkansas saw a mix of precipitation — in places, a combination of hail, sleet and freezing rain, others saw 6 inches of snow. Forecasters warned northern Arkansas could get a half-inch of ice.

Two fatal accidents were attributed to winter weather on Wednesday.

In Oklahoma, 18-year-old Cody Alexander of Alex, Okla., died when his pickup truck skidded on a slushy state highway into oncoming traffic and struck a truck. And in Nebraska, 19-year-old Kristina Leigh Anne Allen of Callaway died when a SUV lost control in snowy, icy conditions, crossed the median and struck her car.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Thursday morning and activated the State Emergency Operations Center. By midmorning Thursday, the snow was coming down so hard that Kansas City International Airport shut down. More than 200 flights were also canceled by Thursday afternoon at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist for Accuweather, said the storm will push off into the Great Lakes and central Appalachians, and freezing rain could make it as far east and south as North Carolina. He also said a “spin-off” storm was expected to create heavy snow in New England, and could push Boston to a February record.

Accuweather said that by the time the storm dies out, at least 24 states will be affected

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Recent Local News
LOCAL MAGAZINES
Easter 2014 photos


Click on any photo to purchase it.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.