Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 1996

THUNDERSLEET IS RARE WEATHER FEAT

January 24, 1996

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A modest warmup is expected for the area until Thursday night or Friday, when the next batch of snow could fall.

Yes, it's still winter in Kansas, and it still snows.

But Tuesday morning featured a special treat: A glaze of ice caused by freezing drizzle followed by -- ready for this? -- the legendary thundersleet.

"That was weird, wasn't it?" said KU weather forecaster Aaron Johnson. "That's pretty rare. The number of times that it happens is pretty few. You're looking at a 1-in-100 chance ... as far as in any winter-type precip(itation)," he said.

The sleet, which began about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, covered streets, walkways and cars.

"It looked like a little mini-hail storm," Johnson said. "There had to be some warmer air aloft to create that lightning and the sleet."

When the sleet stopped, the snow moved in, but only a small amount.

The KU observation station received about .25 of an inch of snow and about .07 of an inch of rain and sleet, Johnson said.

The weather Monday and Tuesday was similar to that last week, only less intense.

Like last Wednesday night, a cold front moved through the area late Monday and rain changed to freezing precipitation.

Tuesday's high temperature, 29 degrees, occurred at 12:01 a.m.. From there, the Mercury began its drop. The high after 6 a.m. only hit 17.

Although the mix of freezing drizzle, sleet and snow made roads potentially treacherous, city crews were treating roads from Monday night through Tuesday.

"That sleet and ice made it pretty difficult (Tuesday) morning," City Manager Mike Wildgen said. "Once they had a lot of traffic driving on them, that certainly helped."

Lawrence police Sgt. Rick Nickell said officers worked about 20 accidents between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday. Not all of them were caused by the weather and road conditions, he said.

"Most of them are pretty minor," he said. "Most people seemed to be getting around OK."

Douglas County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Suitt said three accidents were reported between midnight Monday and 5 p.m. Tuesday in the county. No serious injuries were reported, he said.

Drivers in Jefferson, Leavenworth and Franklin counties, and those on the Kansas Turnpike and on state highways also reported having few problems Tuesday while navigating patchy ice-coated roads.

Today was expected to mostly cloudy with a high of 34, Johnson said.

Thursday should be similar, he said, with a chance of more precipitation late Thursday or early Friday.

The weekend forecast is for dry weather with highs near 30, Johnson said.

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