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White Christmas not just a dream this year in Wichita

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at 4:26 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, at 6:43 p.m.


People in Wichita and much of Kansas won’t have to dream about a white Christmas this year.

They’ll get to live it.

It’ll be just too cold for the snow that fell this weekend to melt before sunrise on Wednesday.

“Officially, we need that 1 inch (on the ground) at 6 a.m. for it to count,” said Mick McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita. “I think that’ll happen.”

The weekend snow, combined with the holiday break from school, meant Monday was a chance for kids to dig out their sleds and head for their favorite hills.

While there will be a bit of melting Tuesday thanks to southerly winds and temperatures creeping just above freezing, McGuire said it won’t be enough for the area to shed its blanket of snow. Wichita still had 3 inches of snow on the ground Monday, when highs were struggling to get out of the teens.

Historically, white Christmases in Wichita are uncommon. Data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate fewer than one in four Christmases have snow covering the ground in Wichita.

This year’s white Christmas will be the first since 2009 for Wichita. It doesn’t typically snow a lot this time of year in south-central Kansas, either. The most snow on the ground for Christmas in Wichita history is 4 inches in 2007.

Near Pawnee Rock, meanwhile, between 15 and 17 inches of snow fell.

The storm hampered travel and forced ranchers to chop ice so cattle could drink water and to feed a little extra to their hungry herds.

“The wind is not blowing, so it’s not too bad,” said Pawnee Rock farmer and rancher John Schmidt. “I know when I walk out, the snow is at the top of my boots, which is 16 to 17 inches high. That’s plenty of snow.”

The good news is that it’s not calving season.

The other good news, Schmidt said, is the moisture.

“Mother Nature can always throw me a curve. But we needed the moisture. It looks good, and we’ll have a White Christmas.”

The bad news?

He still has last-minute shopping to do.

“They got all the parking lots cleared off at Wal-Mart, so it will be fine.”

About 90 miles to the southwest, John Lehman, a weather observer in Coldwater, was also glad for the moisture brought by the snow.

“Our highways seem to be OK; the side streets are pretty well snow-packed,” said Lehman of the 6 inches of snow that fell there. “We are down a couple of inches of moisture, but that’s not bad.”

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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