A winter storm blew through northwest Kansas early Thursday morning, bringing punishing winds, some rain and varying amounts of snowfall.
While Hays schools continued as normal Thursday, many other nearby districts reported two-hour delays, including Russell, La Crosse, Ness City, Oberlin, Otis-Bison and Plainville. Rawlins County schools and Stockton canceled classes completely for the day.
According to a report on the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, an inch of snow was reported this morning west/northwest of Stockton. A Facebook post on a Stockton school district page, however, reported 3 to 4 inches of snow and “zero visibility.”
The earliest report filed for Hays indicated 1.3 inches of snow east/northeast of town. Ness City reported 1.5 inches west/northwest of town, with 1.2 inches reported near St. Francis.
The National Weather Service in Goodland still was receiving snowfall reports early Thursday, but it appeared most of the region received light accumulations, said meteorologist Daniel Robinson.
“Most regions saw only half-inch to an inch,” he said. “There are isolated areas that could have received 2 or 3 inches of snow, but we haven’t received those measured reports yet.”
Slick roads were a primary concern Thursday morning as residents set out for their morning commutes. The Kansas Department of Transportation’s official road condition map showed partially covered roads through most of Kansas, with a few stretches of completely covered roads reported farther west.
“Roads are slick; snow is over,” Robinson said. “We’re still seeing some gusty winds. Visibilities overall have improved, but we anticipate some patchy, blowing snow could still create visibility restrictions, especially when you get away from towns and into open country where the better snow fell.”
A high wind warning was in effect for the region until noon, with north winds of 25 to 40 mph with a possibility of 60 mph gusts. The National Weather Service advised the strong winds could be dangerous for drivers and reduce visibility due to blowing dust or snow.
The temperature was 16 degrees shortly before 7 a.m., with temperatures expected to remain below freezing throughout the day.
The cold air combined with the high winds also resulted in some potentially dangerous wind chills across portions of northwest Kansas. Hoxie had a windchill of -2 degrees early today, while it was -3 degrees near Hill City, Robinson said, noting some areas could see wind chills dipping to -5, or even -10 degrees.
It’s important to keep skin covered if residents must be working outside in these conditions, he said.