First snowfall of the year drops 2 to 3 inches over layer of ice

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Lawrence received 2 to 3 inches of snow Saturday — deposited on a layer of ice from Friday’s freezing rain — before the first winter storm of 2020 cleared the area.

Daniel Reese, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Topeka, said the weather service did not officially track snowfall amounts in Lawrence, but he estimated from social medial reports and photographs that 2 to 3 inches fell from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence. That was more than the 0.7 inches officially measured in Topeka, but less than the 5 to 7 inches that had been predicted on Friday for Lawrence.

Friday’s icy rainfall, recorded at Lawrence Municipal Airport, was 1.1 inches, according to the weather service.

“The system was moving a bit faster and was less amplified with lighter precipitation on the back side,” Reese said of Saturday’s lighter than expected snow. “It was nothing too crazy, but enough to make driving chancy.”

Lawrence motorists handled Saturday’s snowpacked and icy streets relatively well, said Sgt. Amy Rhoads, of the Lawrence Police Department. Lawrence officers worked six noninjury accidents from 7 a.m. to about 2 p.m., she said. That’s in contrast to the 31 accidents that police reported working during the first seven hours of the season’s first significant winter storm on Dec. 15.

Rhoads cautioned, however, that driving conditions remained hazardous. City crews focused on main streets, which are mostly clear but potentially slick, she said.

Jenn Hethcoat, public information officer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, told the Journal-World that deputies responded to about 10 slide-offs and one noninjury accident in the county on Saturday.

The sheriff’s office tweeted about 2 p.m. that county crews were taking advantage of a lull in the snowfall to clear and treat snowpacked roads.

Reese said the lull was actually the end of measurable snowfall from the storm. Winds also were expected to die down with the storm’s departure, reducing driving concerns from drifting snow, he said.

Lawrence should wake Sunday to temperatures in the low teens with the afternoon high warming to about 32 degrees, he said.

Afternoon highs Monday and Tuesday are expected to be in the high 40s, before cooling to the 30s on Wednesday, Reese said.


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