Western Kansans dealt with a variety of severe weather conditions Wednesday into early this morning, as an intense low pressure system moved into the region from Colorado, bringing high winds, heavy rain, fog and snow.
Wind gusts of 50 to 65 mph were common across northwest Kansas, but a gust of 85 mph was recorded at Weskan near the state line in Wallace County just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to data on the Iowa State University Environmental Mesonet web page.
As of 7:30 a.m. today, high winds continued across northwest Kansas, with the Kansas State University Mesonet showing speeds of 29 mph at Hays, 33 mph at Sharon Springs, Goodland and Colby, and 29 mph at St. Francis.
Winds were responsible for at least two accidents elsewhere, with a semi blown on its side in Ellsworth County just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, blocking both eastbound lanes of Interstate 70, according to the Kansas Highway Patrol.
KHP also reported a semi on U.S. Highway 54 just outside of Greensburg was picked up by a gust of wind and laid on its side shortly before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Only minor injuries were reported in those incidents.
As the day wore on, the wind and snow created blizzard conditions in far western Kansas. The Kansas Department of Transportation closed Interstate 70 as far east as WaKeeney to the Colorado line. Just after 8 a.m. tloday, KDOT extended the closure to Hays.
Portions of U.S. Highway 36, U.S. Highway 40 and Kansas Highway 27 in the northwest corner also remained closed Thursday morning.
In north-central Kansas, highways and roads across Norton County east to the Concordia area were reported as completly covered in snow, according to KDOT.
Precipitation totals reported Thursday morning to the Community Collaborateive Rain, Hail and Snow Network include:
• 1.09 inches of a mile southwest of Norton, including a half-inch of new snow
• 0.68 inch 7 miles northeast of Natoma, including a half-inch of new snow.
In Ellis County, CoCoRahs observers reported about a third of inch of rain, with the highest measurement just southeast of Hays at 0.35 inch.