Winter storm sets its sights on Kansas

The western half of Kansas is under weather warnings of one type or another today as a major winter storm barrels into the Sunflower State.

Snow is already falling in Goodland, where a blizzard warning has been posted until 7 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Forecasters say 2 to 4 inches of snow could fall in the four counties bordering Colorado in the northwest corner of the state, with north winds gusting to about 50 miles an hour dropping visibility to less than a half-mile at times.

A winter weather advisory has been issued until 7 p.m. for 50 counties in western and central Kansas, stretching from the Colorado border to as far east as Marion County. Wichita, Newton and Hutchinson are not included in the advisory, but McPherson, Great Bend, Dodge City and Medicine Lodge are.

Strong north-northwest winds blowing steadily at more than 30 miles an hour are expected to move through the area late this morning and early this afternoon, with gusts approaching 50 mph. Forecasters say 2 to 3 inches of heavy, wet snow can be expected northwest of a line from Liberal to Larned, with locally heavier amounts possible.

“Snow and blowing snow will create very hazardous driving conditions,” a National Weather Service statement cautions.

Closer to Wichita, an inch or two of snow may accumulate on grassy areas. Wichita is in a wind advisory until 6 a.m. Thursday, which includes 10 counties in eastern Kansas. Those strong north-northwest winds now striking Colorado and far western Kansas will buffet eastern sections of the state overnight, forecasters say.

Rain that begins late this morning will be mixed with and may briefly change over to snow this evening in Wichita, though no accumulation is expected.

The winter storm moving into Kansas has already dumped several inches of fresh snow along the Front Range of the Rockies, including the Denver metropolitan area. Up to a foot of new snow is expected in the higher elevations, where I-70 has been closed by the storm.