While winter officially started on December 21, 2021, the Four States have been spared from a severe winter storm until tonight, when temperatures will plunge 40+ degrees into the ’20s. The area will experience everything from ice and freezing rain, sleet and snow. It’s going to make driving especially difficult across a wide area from NE Oklahoma, up to Fort Scott, Kansas, to Rolla, Missouri to the east with snow likely even in Arkansas, according to Miles Langfeld, a Meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Springfield, MO.
“So we are looking at a potential, highly impactful winter storm. We have issued a winter storm watch for most of the region, including Southeastern Kansas and Missouri. This has been issued for late Tuesday through Thursday evening.”
Expected accumulations are estimated to be between 6-8 inches north of Interstate-44 with higher amounts of snowfall further north. On Monday, it was a pleasant winter day in the area with partly to mostly sunny skies and highs in the ’60s. But forecasts are for a dramatic turn from a storm that stretches from New Mexico to the Northeast. According to Miles with the NWS, a variety of wintery conditions are possible starting tonight through Thursday night.
“We are expecting that rain to transition over to a wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain as cold Arctic air moves in behind that cold front, that will bring that initial bout of rain towards the midnight hour over Southeast Kansas into Central Missouri.”
Residents of the Four States likely remember the two weeks last February when the same storm that crippled Texas’s electricity grid killed hundreds of people due to lack of power and heat kept temperatures in the single digits and teens. The event was so dire for electric companies that they had to institute rolling blackouts due to a lack of natural gas because of the extra electricity required to keep up with demand. This storm will move on by Thursday morning; highs will remain in the ’30s and ’40s for the rest of the week.
There is one note of good news, according to the latest estimate from the National Drought Monitor, about 40% of Missouri is considered abnormally dry due to lack of precipitation over an extended period. This week’s storm could likely help wipe out that groundwater deficit and keep the state free of flooding.
“We’re looking at, if you melted all the precipitation away, we’re looking at about an inch and a half to two and a half inches across the area. If you took all the rain, all, obviously all the ice, the snow and melted it away. So right now, we’re not really looking into that potential.”
The National Weather Service encourages residents to be prepared if they need to drive during the storm. Be sure to take extra blankets and jackets, also a safety that includes food, water, and a cell phone charger. And if your car slides off the road because of ice, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened. There’s a good chance another driver lost control of their car and could plow right into you.