Winter storm slams county

By EVERETT LAU elau99@rocketmail.com
Posted 2/22/21

Valentine’s Day marked the arrival of a major winter storm dumping as much as 10 inches of snow on parts of Edgar County.

The storm came in a two-part series, beginning Sunday, Feb. 14. The …

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Winter storm slams county

Posted

Valentine’s Day marked the arrival of a major winter storm dumping as much as 10 inches of snow on parts of Edgar County.

The storm came in a two-part series, beginning Sunday, Feb. 14. The first round of snow brought lighter accumulations into early Monday morning, while a second wave of heavier snow overspread the area Monday afternoon, reducing visibility to a quarter of a mile or less at times through the evening.

By Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service’s observation station for the city of Paris recorded nine inches of light, powdery snow, with 1.7 inches falling Sunday night and the remaining 7.3 inches over the course of Monday.

Additional snow totals sent to the National Weather Service office in Lincoln included a 10-inch measurement in Brocton and nine inches southeast of Paris and in Redmon.

High snow totals weren’t the only impact of the winter storm. A gusty northerly wind accompanied the system, producing wind gusts as high as 25 mph at the Edgar County Airport.

The strong wind gusts easily blew the lightweight snow, creating snow drifts in many parts of the county and making clearing roadways more difficult.

Snow-covered roads led to many cancellations and closings Tuesday.

Schools in Casey-Westfield, Chrisman, Kansas, Marshall, Martinsville, Oakland and Paris were all closed for the day, while the Shiloh school district opted to use a remote learning day after canceling in-person instruction.

Additionally, the storm prompted the closure of the Edgar County Courthouse and several county offices Tuesday.

Continued poor road conditions gave students in Chrisman, Kansas, Marshall and Paris another snow day Wednesday, and Marshall students got another break from classes Thursday after an additional inch of snow fell in Clark County Wednesday night.

Paris’ 9-inch snowfall measurement this week tops the list of several snowstorms in the past two decades.

According to data from the National Weather Service, the most recent event with a similar total was Jan. 12-13, 2019, when seven inches of snow fell in Paris. Six inches of snow were reported on Feb. 26, 2016, March 1, 2015, and Feb. 4-5, 2014.

The year 2014 featured another notable winter storm on Jan. 4 and 5 that dumped eight inches of new snow on top of five inches of snow already on the ground.

That storm also featured fierce wind gusts that dropped wind chills values as low as 30 degrees below zero and piled snow in high drifts, closing schools in Paris for a week.

Many Edgar County residents can recall the Blizzard of 1978. That storm system dumped a foot of snow between Jan. 25 and 26, but it fell on top an eight-inch snow already on the ground, making a total snow depth of 20 inches, which formed massive drifts.

This week’s winter storm is just the latest system to come as a result of a trough in the jet stream.

The jet stream is a channel of fast-moving air in the upper atmosphere that marks the boundary between warm and cold air. It’s been positioned across far southern portions of the United States, allowing multiple blasts of arctic air to settle across the Midwest, keeping temperatures below freezing in Paris for a little more than two weeks.

The fresh snowpack and clear skies allowed temperatures to plummet to eight below zero Wednesday night at the observation site in Paris, marking the coldest temperature of the winter, and the coldest since thermometers fell to 14 below zero on Jan. 30, 2019. The Edgar County Airport dipped to 12 below zero.

This pattern in the jet stream is also responsible for the unprecedented cold across parts of Texas and Oklahoma, which has crippled the electric grid in that region and supplies of natural gas.

While Edgar County’s recent snow events have made a dent in our snowfall deficit, Paris’ 2020-2021 winter snowfall total of 13.8 inches is still below average.

According to National Weather Service data from 1981-2010, Paris averages 23.6 inches of snow annually.