Saturday, February 23, 2013

Major Blizzard Forecast for Central Plains

Update: 9:31pm Saturday:  I've looked at new data and I see nothing that changes my opinion. This is going to be a major storm that I believe will disrupt Kansas and west central Missouri for 60 to 72 hours from the time the snow begins in any given location.  

If you are planning to fly out of KCI or a Kansas airport try to get out before the storm begins. Scroll down for my Airline Crisis Survival Guide.

Snow has begun falling in the Denver Metro area. 

Original Posting:
Here is the latest snow accumulation forecast. As I'm defining it, red areas are more than ten inches. In addition to the heavy snows, there will be widespread wind gusts of 45 mph or above and some areas will have gusts to 60 mph or more. Please do not take this as an exact map of snow accumulations. My motive in posting it is that I'm trying to convey this will be a major storm.

There could be power failures with winds that high. Even the high temperatures will not get above freezing in the blizzard area Monday through Wednesday.

Some precautions:
  • Fill your gas tank. Make sure you have an ice scraper. 
  • If the snow is sufficiently wet, there will be power failures due to the high winds and snow loading of lines and trees (branches leaning into the wires). Get a auto power inverter that can keep your cell phone or computer charged. 
  • If you must keep medicine chilled or run other appliances, get a generator.
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Go to the grocery store to get any necessary food
  • Go to the ATM and get cash. 
  • Make preparations for your pets and farm animals
In the strongest possible terms, I urge you not to attempt to travel in or through the blizzard area once it begins Sunday night (in the High Plains, along and west of U.S. 83) and early Monday morning over the rest of Kansas.

Addition: Blizzard warning issued in eastern Colorado. 
Orange = blizzard warning. Green = blizzard watch. There is a blizzard watch over a good part of central and southwest Kansas but it is overwritten by a dense fog advisory. Pink is a winter storm warning (including Denver). The deep blue is a winter storm watch.

Second addition: If you are planning to fly out of Wichita, Kansas City, Manhattan, Salina or Garden City Monday or Tuesday you will want to leave tomorrow if at all possible. A guide is here.


  1. When is this forecast for? I'm going to be trying to fly back home to Kansas City on Tuesday (from Newark), and I'm wondering if I should postpone my flight until Wednesday....

  2. Sherri:
    I can't and don't give special flight info. However, I can say that it will likely still be snowing in Kansas City Tuesday and Tuesday evening.

  3. The last snow we had this past week was the best in all ways, many inches and low wind. Didn't bother me at all. The next one is very scary. It will be much worse if there's any wind at all. Thank you for saying so.

  4. "Even the high temperatures will not get above freezing in the blizzard area Monday through Wednesday."

    There was at one time a temperature component in the "official" Weather Bureau definition of "blizzard". Seems like it was 20 degrees or colder. Do you know why this was changed, and when?

    I lived in Dodge City at the time of the famous March, 1957 "blizzard". Two feet of snow with huge drifts, but I don't think the temperature got below 25 or so.

  5. Here is the current official NWS definition of a blizzard:

    -- Blizzard- A blizzard means that the following conditions are expected to prevail for a period of 3 hours or longer:
    -- Sustained wind or frequent gusts to 35 miles an hour or greater; and
    Considerable falling and/or blowing snow (i.e., reducing visibility frequently to less than a ¼ mile)

    There is no longer a temperature criterion in the blizzard definition. I'm about as certain as I can be 24 hours before the first flake falls in Kansas that this storm will qualify.

  6. If I'm not mistaken, that deep red stripe goes right over my house!

  7. Hi Dick. Looks like KC will be in the blizzard area. What a mess!! Nice to hear from you.

  8. Hey Mike, We are heading to Springfield MO from Hutchinson Tuesday at noon for my Dads funeral. Do you think the most of it will be done by then? I dont want to ask a question that you have no control over and sounds stupid but I am distraught here thinking I wont be able to get there for this important event. Thanks for all you do Mike!!

  9. So sorry for the loss of your father. PLEASE do not attempt to drive this Tuesday. Start before dark tonight.


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