Finger on the Weather

How harsh has Wichita’s winter been? Readers weigh in

How harsh has Wichita’s winter been?

An extended cold snap straddling late December and early January aside, it hasn’t had much teeth, data shows. An informal poll of local residents and a national severity index agree.

Half of the more than 200 people who responded to a Twitter poll classified the winter to date as mild, while another 30 percent called it “moderate.”

The lack of snow so far this winter — less than an inch for Wichita as February gains steam — has a lot to do with that, National Weather Service meteorologist Vanessa Pearce said.

“It would have made a difference in how people see this winter” if more snow had fallen, Pearce said.

The jet stream has kept snow storms close to I-70 and north of the Wichita metropolitan area — a pattern that will repeated on Sunday when northern counties got a fresh layer of snow.

Wichita also saw some snow on Sunday — just for a few hours — in the northeast section of the city.

The rest of the city can expect to see some snow Monday night into Tuesday morning, National Weather Service meteorologist Thomas Vaughn said.

Wichita will shudder through that blast of colder air early in the week. Wichita endured a stretch of 15 consecutive days from late December into early January when the temperature never climbed as high as 40.

That was enough for the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index to classify Wichita’s winter as “moderate” throughout January. The index reclassified Wichita’s winter to “mild” only on Friday. The index takes into account snowfall, temperatures and how long snow stays on the ground.

“We haven’t had any” snowfall so far this winter, Pearce said, which has kept Wichita’s rating from being harsher.

Snow coverage would have lowered Wichita’s temperatures even more, she said. As it is, the average temperature in Wichita has been more than two degrees above average for the three months from November through January.

But it’s still been colder this winter than last, Pearce said.

“Last winter wasn’t as cool,” she said. “We did have a snap” in mid-December 2016, “but this winter has seen longer stretches” of colder temperatures.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger

Kaitlyn Alanis: 316-269-6708, @kaitlynalanis