Snowfall total for Wichita above normal so far this winter

A man makes his way through downtown Wichita on Saturday evening. (Jan. 3, 2014)
A man makes his way through downtown Wichita on Saturday evening. (Jan. 3, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Boosted by a record-setting snow over the weekend, Wichita is far above normal for snowfall this winter.

The official seasonal total of 9.9 inches is nearly 4 inches above normal for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service. The average snowfall total through Jan. 3 is about 6 inches.

“We have been in a pretty active weather pattern, actually,” Vanessa Pearce, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the weather service, said Tuesday.

The 3.9 inches of snow that fell Saturday broke Wichita’s record for snow on Jan. 3. The old mark was 3 inches in 1973. Even more snow fell in other parts of Wichita, forecasters said.

Streets were generally in good shape for the Monday morning commute, though patchy slick spots were being reported on social media. Sedgwick County emergency dispatchers said there were not more accidents than normal for a typical Monday morning, which often sees more accidents than the rest of the work week.

“Everybody forgets how to drive over the weekend,” one dispatcher said.

The city’s primary routes are “in pretty good shape,” Alan King, director of public works and utilities for the city, said Monday.

“We got to bare pavement on quite a few streets” thanks to a combination of sunshine and city truck crews applying salt and sand, he said.

Officials are hoping to get as many primary and secondary streets cleared before a second wave of cold air reaches the Wichita area Tuesday. That polar air will drop lows into single digits and keep highs only in the teens and 20s the rest of the week.

When it’s that cold, “the plows just ride on top of the ice,” King said. “They don’t push it away.”

Slick spots remain in shaded areas, however, and King urged motorists to drive carefully as a result. Secondary streets and school bus routes were getting extra attention Monday, and King said he hoped crews would be able to reach the pavement soon as well.

“We’re making pretty good headway,” King said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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