Get caught unprepared in the winter weather expected in Newton and Harvey County, and you could end up cold permanently.
The National Weather Service forecasts 4 to 7 inches of snow will fall Sunday and Monday and wind gusts will be between 15 and 20 miles per hour with the storm. Travel will be difficult, but that’s not the worst part of the winter weather expected in Newton and Harvey County.
“It’s the cold weather that’s going to make it dangerous more than the snow,” NWS Meteorologist Eric Metzger said. “It has the potential to take life during a short period of the time.”
His office has forecasted sub-zero temperatures the next four days with wind chills at times between -15 and -30 degrees.
“Once you get around zero degrees, the wind chill drops to -30 or -40 with the wind at 15 miles an hour,” he said. “Frostbite in minutes becomes a real risk.”
Metzger said it only takes 20 to 30 minutes for such winter weather to kill a person without adequate protection.
“If your car breaks down or have an accident and you’re out without a heavy coat, you’re in trouble in a huge hurry,” he said.
Metzger stressed that people need to avoid going outside if they can. If they must travel, even a few miles, they need to have an emergency kit in their car.
That means a heavy coat, gloves, other warm clothes and/or blankets.
For Saturday, he said the office expects a high of 9 degrees and a low of zero for Newton.
Sunday will get up to a balmy 3 degrees before the temperature plunges that evening to -8 degrees on Monday morning.
Snow will fall during that time period. Metzger said, at such cold temperatures, small variations in moisture can result in wide ranges of snowfall. He explained that’s why people were seeing such a broad variation in snowfall forecasts from various sources.
Metzger said, in cold weather, it takes very little moisture at cold temperatures to produce large accumulations of snow. Right now, the National Weather Service is projecting between 4 and 7 inches for Harvey County. Metzger said he’d be more confident in projections.
As for where the cold weather ranks in history, Metzger said the NWS expects a number of record lows to fall in Kansas, some as old as 75 years.
“This is historically the coldest week of the winter for the area,” he said. “Today is the anniversary of Wichita’s all-time record of -22 that occurred in 1899.”
Even in our historically coldest week, we’re far below normal temperatures. The average high for this time of year is 48 degrees.
“We’re going to be pushing 50 degrees below normal,” he said of the Monday weather forecast for Newton.
He said now the NWS is not expecting the area to climb above freezing until Friday.
The expected continued cold prompted the Harvey County Sheriff’s Office to put out a list of tips for motorists in the area. Tips are below: