A blast of winter brought snow Monday afternoon and evening across western Kansas, and plummeting temperatures were expected to follow into Tuesday.
The National Weather Service was predicting up to 4 inches of snow through Tuesday for the Garden City area, with temperatures expected to plunge to daytime highs in the low teens and overnight lows below zero on Tuesday night.
Light snow began falling mid-afternoon Monday in Garden City, and continued into the night. As of early Monday night, the NWS predicted a 60 percent chance for snow Tuesday morning, with that figure dropping to 20 percent by Tuesday night. Wednesday through Friday, the forecast is for clear skies and the days are to be mostly sunny. Another round of snow is possible Friday night.
Temperatures had fallen into the teens by early Monday night, and overnight lows were expected to fall to 1 degree. The NWS forecast calls for a high of only 8 degrees Tuesday, with an overnight low of minus 6. It should begin to warm up a little on Wednesday, with a high of 19 under partly sunny skies and an overnight low of 8. New Year’s Day is expected to see a high of 31 and an overnight low of 12. There is a slight chance of snow again on Friday, with a high of 31 and a low of 13.
Tuesday morning’s wind chill for Garden City is expected to dip to minus 19 degrees.
“It looks like the snow will be pretty well done by tomorrow night,” Duane Wolf, a meteorologist at the Dodge City National Weather Service center said. “We are not expecting anything beyond Wednesday morning.”
Wolf described the storm as an upper level system that developed in the Pacific northwest and moved down into the desert southwest. There is a large arctic surface high pressure system that is diving down into the plains states, bringing with it extreme cold temperatures. The upper level system is also responsible for the snow.
“This is not really a major system. It is large in size, but as far as intensity, it is fairly weak,” Wolf said.
“Bitterly cold wind chills are forecast Tuesday morning, as well, leading to enhanced risk of hypothermia and frostbite,” according to a statement on the NWS Facebook page.
Syracuse, Scott City and Ness City all have wind chill predictions for minus 20 degrees on Tuesday. Hays is expected to have a wind chill of minus 21.
Gilbert Valerio, Finney County Emergency Management coordinator, warned residents to get ready for the extreme weather, particularly to guard against the cold temperatures.
“Snow covered roads could make for slick driving conditions,” Valerio said. “Other impacts include wind chill readings of 15 to 20 below zero possible later tonight and into Tuesday morning.”
“With the wind chill values that have been forecast, anybody out there with any exposed skin for a very long time will probably suffer frostbite or hypothermia if they are there too long,” Valerio said, referring to the possibility of people getting stranded or stuck in the elements.
Valerio also warned that outside pets need to be brought inside for the next couple of days.
“Pet owners would be wise to keep their pets inside up to Friday, when we are getting up to about 31 degrees,” he said.
Diesel engine owners were warned to plug them in for the night so the fuel does not freeze.
“Even those with gasoline engines need to have their motor vehicles filled up. You don’t want to have them too low in weather like this,” Valerio said, explaining that if the engine has a quarter of a tank or lower, the danger of freezing would increase.
Valerio also warned against using stoves and ovens to heat homes, which he described as “not good, not safe.” House warming equipment should be plugged in at a safe location where it can’t accidentally get tipped over and start a fire, the emergency coordinator stressed.