Parts of Kansas will see heavy snow later in the day on Sunday and early into Monday, though Wichita isn’t expected to see anything more than flurries at most.
Less than half an inch of snow has fallen in Wichita so far this winter, with the season already past its midway point. But if you think that means Wichita’s done with snow for the season, the National Weather Service has a message for you:
Not so fast.
There have been several winters that produced little or no snow the first half of the season, only to see more than a foot of snow fall from February onward. The most recent example is the winter of 2012-13, which recorded just 3.3 inches of snow through January — and then dumped 26.7 inches on Wichita from February through early April.
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Two winters saw no snow in Wichita through January, then more than a foot of snow the last half of the season — in 1970-71, when 16.7 inches fell, and 1979-80, when 12.7 inches fell.
For this winter to join that list, weather service meteorologist Robb Lawson said, something fundamental has to happen.
“We’ve got to get some cold air” in the area, he said.
Wichita shook off an extended cold spell late last week. But while that arctic air was in place, there was little to no moisture in the local atmosphere for storm fronts to turn into snow. The combination of conditions that produce snow have stayed north of the metro area, primarily along or north of I-70.
As much as eight inches of snow or more are expected in the northwest corner of Kansas Sunday night and early Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Winds of 45 to 55 miles an hour are expected to bring whiteout conditions to portions of northern Kansas late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
But even after that cold front moves through Wichita, Lawson said, highs will still be in the 40s on Monday and climb into the 50s and even 60s later in the week.
Another blast of arctic air needs to push into Kansas to set the stage for a meaningful snow event in the Wichita area, Lawson said.
“It’s not out of the question,” he said. “We usually get one in February.”
The other part of the equation — storm fronts steadily rolling through the region — is already in place.
“We’ve had a pretty active pattern” over the past couple of weeks, Lawson said. “This one is just farther north, so Nebraska gets the snow instead of eastern Kansas.”