DISCUSSION: For the last few days of April, there was a massive area of low pressure that was parked over the Midwest, making plenty of national headlines. While the majority of news stories featured tornado and flooding impacts, this storm was also responsible for dangerous wintry conditions in a swath from northeast New Mexico through southern Nebraska.
According to the National Weather Service Dodge City office, parts of extreme western Kansas received as much as 18 inches of snow. As you can see from their contoured map above, there was a sharp gradient in snow totals from west to east. It should be noted that due to the high winds, it was difficult to get exact snow measurements.
For Dodge City itself, this was a record-breaking storm. The Dodge City Regional Airport measured 2.5 inches of snow, higher than any other snow measured this late in the season (April 30 or later). However, for cities in the “jackpot” zone of snow totals, I would argue that this storm was even more unprecedented. Unfortunately, the cities within the heaviest snow areas are remote, so those periods of record are mostly either unreliable or do not date back far enough. As a result, it is difficult to verify exactly how historical this storm was in many of those areas.
After some digging on the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS - see below), I found data for the town of Elkhart, located farther southwest than any other town in Kansas. In this case, records dating back to 1900 were available. Before this year, the most snow they had received after April 28 was 4.3 inches. By 10:20 AM local time on April 30, 2017, Elkhart had reported 14 inches of snow with drifts up to eight feet! Considering Elkhart had received more than a trace of snow only four other times in its history during this period, 14 inches is extraordinary.
When traveling in any kind of snowy conditions, it is important to follow winter weather tips such as winterizing your vehicle and packing an emergency supply kit.
To learn more about other high-impact winter weather events from around the world, be sure to click here!
© 2017 Meteorologist Jake Spivey