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Amarillo, Texas hit by 2nd Biggest Snowstorm on Record/Wichita Update

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:52 PM GMT on February 25, 2013

Amarillo, Texas hit by 2nd Biggest 24-hour Snowstorm on Record/Wichita Update

Amarillo, Texas picked up 19.0" of snow on February 24-25, its 2nd greatest 24-hour snowfall on record and 3rd greatest single-storm snowfall. Just last week Wichita, Kansas also received its 2nd greatest snow on record when 14.2” fell on February 20-21. The storm that blew over the Texas Panhandle last night and this morning (with wind gusts as high as 77 mph) is now bringing heavy snow to Wichita, Kansas.

Blizzard conditions raged in and around Amarillo, Texas this morning (February 25) depositing 19.0” of snow with drifts of 4-6’. Photo by Michael Schumacher, The Amarillo Globe News.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 26: Wichita received 6.8" of snowfall on February 25-26. This was enough to make this February the single snowiest month in Wichita records (which go back to 1888). Wichita’s previous snowiest month was 20.5” that fell during February 1913. Just last week Wichita received 14.2" of snow on February 18-19 which ranked as the city's 2nd greatest single snowstorm on record. Wichita’s all-time record for a single snowstorm was that of January 17-18, 1962 when 15.0” fell. Its 24-hour record (which still stands) is 13.5” on March 15-16, 1970. During last week’s storm the peak snowfall amount reported in Kansas was 22” at Russell. This was well short of the Kansas state record for a single snowstorm of 37.0” set at Olathe on March 23-24, 1912. The state 24-hour snowfall record is 30.0” at Pratt on March 28, 2009.

Texas and Amarillo Snowfall Records

Snow accumulations in the Texas Panhandle as of 7:00 p.m., February 25th. As can be seen the heaviest snowfall has been confined to a narrow path so far, with Amarillo in the bulls eye for the heaviest accumulation. The grand total for Amarillo has been determined to be 19.0". This figure was measured at the official NWS site at the airport east of the city itself. Downtown Amarillo reports indicate just about 12-14" fell there. Apparently a convective band with lightning and thunder set up just east of town with snow rates of 2-3"/hour and thus resulted with the near record official snow total. The use of airports, usually distant from the cities they represent, as 'official' NWS sites is a real problem. For instance, why is O'Hare Airport in Des Plaines, Illinois now the 'official' Chicago weather site even though it is not in Chicago and, given the micro-climates that Lake Michigan present not representative of the weather that the actual city of Chicago itself experiences. Map from NWS-Amarillo web site.

The storm in 2009 also set the Texas state record for the greatest 24-hour snowfall when 25.0” fell at Follett on March 27-28. An amazing but fairly localized heavy snowfall struck a portion of the Texas Panhandle on February 1-6, 1956 depositing a total of 61” of snow on Vega (located about 35 miles west of Amarillo) over six days (NOTE: this figure is disputed and has also been published as ‘just’ 43”). However, the snow settled and melted during the course of the storm and the greatest depth observed at Vega during the storm was 33”, a figure also matched at Hale Center about 50 miles south of Vega. These remain the Texas state records for ‘single greatest snowstorm’ and ‘greatest snow depth’. Plainview, near Hale Center, picked up 24.0” in one 24-hour period (February 3-4, 1956) during this remarkable storm, the Texas state record for such until the great snow of 2009. Amazing as this storm in 1956 was, the excessive snowfall amounts were confined to a narrow corridor west of Amarillo. Amarillo received 14” during the storm and Dalhart (50 miles due north of Vega) a paltry 3”.

For many years (until 2009) Plainview, Texas held the state record for greatest 24-hour snowfall when 24” accumulated there on February 3-4, 1956. Certainly enough for children to construct this snow dragon! Photo from the Plainview Daily Herald.

Amarillo’s single greatest snowstorm (and 24-hour accumulation) was the 20.6” measured on March 25-26, 1934 and its maximum snow depth was 17” on February 26, 1903 (it remains to be seen what the ground depth of today's storm is). The city's 2nd greatest single-storm snowfall was 20.2" on December 26-27, 2000. The greatest monthly snowfall total for the city is 28.7” during February 1903. That record will probably remain safe since as of today the monthly total this February stands at 25.5”. The average annual snowfall for Amarillo is 17.9”.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

That is a lot of snow, Chris. They may not appreciate now, but these areas will appreciate the melt they get from it later. They needed the precipitation.
This global warming is the pits.
From Amarillo NWS (and cross-posted on Dr. Masters' blog):

February 25, 2013 Blizzard

A historic blizzard struck the Panhandles during the early morning hours of Monday, February 25 and continued through the afternoon hours. A very intense upper-level disturbance produced a band of heavy snow that set up over the central Panhandles from roughly Amarillo to Borger to Perryton during the early morning hours on Monday. Within this band of snow, snowfall rates approached 2-3 inches per hour, thundersnow was observed, and extreme blizzard conditions were observed. As this band moved west and east during the morning hours, many locations from Hereford to Beaver received more than 10 inches of snow. The heavy snow and strong winds resulted in visibilities less than 50 feet at times for many of these locations. As a result, this virtually crippled the entire area and made travel almost impossible. In fact, all roads in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles were closed, including Interstate 40 from the New Mexico border to the Oklahoma border and Interstate 27 from Amarillo to Lubbock. Conditions were so severe that Texas Department of Transportation crews were not able to work to keep the roads plowed. Rick Husband International Airport in Amarillo was shut down for most of the day. 19 inches of snow accumualted at NWS Amarillo along with a peak wind gust of 75 mph late Monday morning. A peak wind gust of 77 mph was also recorded at the Pantex Nuclear facility. Unfortunately, many motorists were also stranded

*This was the 3rd largest snowfall event at Amarillo -- only behind March 25-26, 1934 (20.6 inches) and December 26-27, 2000 (20.2 inches)

*This was the 2nd largest snowfall for a calendar day -- only behind March 25, 1934 (19.3 inches)

*This was the largest snowfall for a single day in the month of February. The previous record was 12 inches on February 16, 1893



(More images are available at the site.)
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