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Wind adds own element to weather
Ag News - State Ag News
Tuesday, 26 February 2013 09:51

Gusts create whiteout conditions as snow falls, blows through the region.

By Amy Bickel
The Hutchinson News

MEDICINE LODGE - There was no complaining from rancher Tim Marshall as he drove a tractor into the near whiteout conditions to feed his cattle Monday afternoon - the second snowstorm in just days barreling down on his Barber County operation.
"I'm not about to cuss it," Marshall, also the county's agriculture agent, said. "It might be a lot of work, but we have spent the past two and a half years begging for moisture, and we'll take it."

Conditions were similar across much of south-central Kansas on Monday as falling snow and 30 to 35 mph winds made it tough to navigate. Blowing and drifting snow also closed down several southern Kansas roadways.

The region remained in a blizzard warning through midnight.

"The strong winds will produce near-zero visibility and blowing and drifting snow," said Ray Burgert, with the National Weather Service in Dodge City.

Burgert said that by Tuesday, the storm should leave 3 to 7 inches across south-central Kansas. Heavier snowfall is expected in the Pratt and Medicine Lodge region.

At 9 a.m. Monday, the weather service reported 4.5 inches at Greensburg, 4 inches at Ashland, 4 inches in Coldwater and 3 inches at Lyons, which received an additional inch and a half by 1 p.m.

Burgert said at 1 p.m. that Dodge City had received 2.5 inches, with another inch expected when the storm ended Monday night. He also said the Trousdale area in Edwards County received nearly 5 inches of snow.

"With the blowing and drifting snow, it has been hard to get an accurate reading," he said. "I admire anyone out there trying to measure this stuff."

At Haviland, Don Stimpson said visibility was less than a half mile as falling snow and blowing snow whirled around his rural home. He couldn't see his neighbor's home a quarter-mile away.

"You go out there and you are snow blind," he said.

He wasn't sure just how much snow he received because of how much was blowing.

"It's significant, though," he said. "It's several inches. We just got dug out from that last storm and here we are again."

Last week's storm, he said, dumped 15 inches of snow in the area.

He and his wife hit the stores Sunday for provisions for themselves and their animals. Snow began to fall around 2 a.m. Monday near Haviland.

"We're not going anywhere," he said, noting there were three-foot drifts on the rural roadways. "I don't know if it is really snowing or if there is a lot of snow in the air. I'm not sure where it is coming from."

Down the road in Greensburg, Matt Deighton said conditions varied depending on the wind speed. Earlier in the day, he couldn't see the train tracks a block away.

"Right now, the wind is picking up again and it is gusting," he said.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Department of Transportation closed all state highways leading into the Oklahoma Panhandle as the storm continues to roll into the region.

Department officials said Monday that U.S. 52 west of Liberal, U.S. 56 at Elkhart, U.S. 83 at Liberal, Kansas 25 in Stevens County and Kansas 23 in Meade County had been closed at the request of Oklahoma officials.

The closings were in addition to the closings on U.S. 160 from Meade to Coldwater; U.S. 183 from the Kansas-Oklahoma state line to Coldwater and U.S. 283 from the Kansas-Oklahoma state line to Minneola. The department also closed Kansas 34 from junction of U.S. 160/U.S. 183/Kansas 34 north to Bucklin.

Blowing and drifting snow caused hazardous driving conditions and visibility was extremely low in the region. Roads remained snow packed in many areas of south-central and southwest Kansas.

According to the weather service, on Highway 54 near Kingman, five vehicles had slid off the road in an hour's time shortly after noon Monday.

But as Marshall worked Monday, he said dealing with a little inclement weather and low visibility is just part of life when you are a rancher.

With most of his cows calving earlier this winter, he said he just has two pregnant cows, and he put them in a barn and bedded them down Sunday night. Several times through the day, he will put older hay down so his baby calves will be off the snow. The temperature hasn't gotten too cold, so the water sources are open.

His wife, Stephanie, said they had gone to town at noon in good conditions. But around 1:30 p.m., however, everything went white.

"I can't even see the trees a quarter mile away," she said. "I went out to feed the dogs and the wind - it's just horrible. The snow is 100 percent sideways. It took everything I had to walk north."

The snow is a blessing, Tim Marshall said, though not enough to relieve a multiyear drought.

"It's a good start," he said. "But we're still trying to just put a Band-Aid on something that needs stitches."

 
 
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