Wichita could see sleet, then snow from weekend winter storm

02/28/2014 3:30 PM

02/28/2014 5:02 PM

A winter storm is poised to batter the eastern half of Kansas this weekend, bringing up to a foot of snow to isolated sections of the Sunflower State before pushing east.

Wichita could see 3 to 6 inches of snow, forecasters say. Heavier snow is predicted in north and northeast Kansas.

“It looks more likely that we’re going to see predominantly snow, with some sleet involved first,” said Andy Crouch, a meteorologist with AccuWeather in Wichita.

Street crews in Wichita will transition to 12-hour shifts on Saturday and are prepared to cope with a wide range of wintry precipitation, said Joe Pajor, deputy director of public works and utilities. Crews have been pretreating streets with brine over the past few days and will continue until the storm arrives, he said.

“We’ll make a continuous process of reviewing the conditions and adapting our response to meet those conditions,” Pajor said at a briefing Friday. “Every storm is different. We will have to see what we get in this storm.”

Freezing rain, sleet and snow are all expected with this storm, Pajor said, with Wichita essentially on the line between all snow and a wintry mix. As the time draws closer for the arrival of the storm, forecasters say, indications are that the freezing rain will stay southeast of the metropolitan area.

Wichita’s accumulation figures to be a combination of sleet and snow by the time precipitation ends Sunday evening, National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Smith said.

“Sunday’s going to be pretty doggone cold,” Smith said.

Lows early Sunday will be about 7, he said, and temperatures will only climb a few degrees from there. Lows early Monday are projected to be about zero, though snow cover and clear skies could push that number lower.

Monday will also be cold, with the high not reaching 20 and wind chills in the negative teens, Smith said.

Street crews have about 5,500 tons of salt-sand mix on hand, Pajor said, which is enough for about three full passes on the city’s snow routes. That should be adequate to properly respond to this storm, he said.

While Monday and Tuesday will be quite cold in the aftermath of this storm, he said, “the good news is the duration does not appear to be as long.”

Forecasters say temperatures will warm rapidly later in the week, reaching the 50s by Thursday and Friday.

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