Wichita sees heavy snow, braces for frigid temps

A bicyclist makes his way down Douglas in downtown Wichita on Saturday evening. (Jan. 3, 2014)
A bicyclist makes his way down Douglas in downtown Wichita on Saturday evening. (Jan. 3, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

A blast of wintry air moving across Kansas will keep temperatures feeling downright frigid Sunday.

So bundle up, Wichita, if you’re headed outside.

The National Weather Service in Wichita says a strong cold front that swept across the region late Saturday night, coupled with a blanket of fresh snowfall, will force Sunday’s high to plummet into the upper teens.

Breezy conditions and subzero wind chills are also in store Sunday morning, the weather service said. Wichitans should expect the temperature at 6 a.m. to be around 8 degrees and should plan for it to drop even more – possibly down to zero – by the day’s end.

“The wind chill could drop to 12 below,” said Andy Kleinsasser, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It’s going to be pretty nasty.”

A snowstorm that preceded the cold front was expected to drop as much as 5 inches of snow in some parts of Wichita by midnight Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

By 8 p.m. Saturday, between 3 and 4.5 inches was already blanketing the city, Kleinsasser said. The heaviest snowfall came between 5 and 6 p.m., when flakes came down at a rate of 2 inches per hour. Drivers then experienced slick spots on some streets and reduced visibility at times, according to reports.

Additional light snow and flurries were expected to continue through midnight.

Kleinsasser predicted that the temperature, which hung slightly above freezing while the bulk of the snow fell, would drop into the single digits overnight.

“It looks like Wichita had some of the highest (snow) reports received across the area,” he said, referring to south-central Kansas.

Elsewhere in Kansas, estimated snowfall totals ranged from a trace to several inches by 8 p.m. Saturday. The most, 7 inches, had fallen in Hugoton, according to the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service office in Dodge City in a tweet predicted blizzard conditions at times, “due to blowing & drifting snow.”

Authorities shut down I-70 from Hays west to the Colorado state line and other highways in western Kansas because of snowy conditions.

Kleinsasser said that in Wichita, wet and slush-covered streets could cause some problems for motorists Sunday morning. He urged drivers to be careful.

“With the really cold air coming, I have a feeling the roads will be pretty nasty once it all freezes,” he said.

Kleinsasser said the cold is expected to persist into midweek. Monday morning will start out at about 6 degrees, the weather service predicted, with temperatures rising to the mid-20s.

“It looks like a pretty good shot of cold air,” Kleinsasser said. Temperature-wise, “we’re definitely below normal. Highs this times of year are normally around 40 to 41 degrees.”

Contributing: Deb Gruver of The Eagle

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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