Overnight low of 1 degree doesn’t quite set weather record in Wichita

03/03/2014 8:18 AM

03/13/2014 10:01 AM

Wichita didn’t set a record for coldest morning in March on Monday, but it was still quite cold in the metropolitan area.

Low temperatures settled at about 1 degree in Wichita, thanks to stronger-than-expected winds overnight.

The record low for March 3 is minus 2, set in 1960. The record low for all of March in Wichita is minus 3, set twice in 1948.

Only a quirk may have kept Wichita from setting or tying the record, though. The temperature at Jabara Airport shortly before 7 a.m. was minus 3, and it was minus 4 in Newton, said Scott Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita.

North winds had to blow over the city of Wichita before reaching the official measuring station next to Mid-Continent Airport in southwest Wichita, he said, and heat generated by all the concrete and asphalt may well have been enough to raise the temperature just that few degrees.

“Even with the snow cover,” Smith said.

Wind chills were still several degrees below zero, however, and the anticipated conditions prompted some schools in the area to stay closed Monday – including the Wichita school district.

Officially, Wichita received 3.2 inches of snow on Sunday, bringing the total this winter to 22.7 inches. The daytime high of 11 was the second-coldest on record in March in Wichita, according to the weather service. That was bettered only by the 9 degrees of March 4, 1960.

The high Monday was 17 degrees.

There were a few accidents “here and there” in the metropolitan area during Monday’s morning commute, a Sedgwick County dispatch supervisor said, but traffic was generally moving smoothly. No serious injuries were reported.

Street crews plowed snow emergency routes and treated them with a salt-sand mixture, said Alan King, director of public works and utilities.

“There could be some refreezing, so we urge motorists to exercise caution – particularly tomorrow morning,” King said.

Temperatures are expected to warm gradually as the week extends, forecasters say, reaching the upper 30s on Tuesday and the 40s on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday could see highs in the 50s.

“That’s the thing about March,” Smith said. “The cold doesn’t stick around long. The sun’s angle is getting higher in the sky and the days are getting longer.”

The imminent return to warm temperatures will help street conditions improve quickly, King said.

“What has accumulated on the ground is much thinner” in comparison with the snowpack from last month’s heavy snow followed by several days of bitter cold, he said.

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