AUSSKY  - 'Going to Extremes' 2013 - Chasing the Weather USA

The Great Kansas Blizzard - Day 1

20th February 2013

Report: Clyve Herbert

Photography: Jane ONeill & Clyve Herbert 

The National Weather Service of the USA was onto this snow storm for several days, a major low was expected to develop around the Four Corners and then move onto the great plains driving a large cloud band across the midwest, at first Nebraska appeared to be in the gun siight but gradually the storm track was shifted south to affect Kansas.The day before (19th), the weather service had zeroed in on a low pressure tracking across northern Oklahoma or southern Kansas, that meant that the colder northern quadrant would remain across most of Kansas, it's ironic that the moisture supply for this winter storm was of tropical origin, with Gulf air riding north in the mid and upper levels and Arctic air firmly in place through the lower levels. This is a worse case senario for major snow storms across the central and eastern areas of the USA.

At our base in Hillsboro Kansas, the snow arrived around 9am on the 20th, not large flakes but tiny crystals that broke into a fine dust of white that blew around like talcum powder. Fine and tiny these snow crystals were, within an hour the stuff had coasted everything and was blowing around like thick fog, today we ventured to Wichita (returning a rental car), the drive was horrendous, trucks jacknifed and dozens of cars off the road, Wichita was a mess, there is nothing more disorienting than a white out.....welcome to America we thought and this was day one of the great plains blizzard of 2013

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The first snow was composed of a fine crystal that broke into a powder not unlike talcum powder. (Hillsboro KS) Photo: Jane ONeill

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Our chase vehicle kicks up a fine powder of snow heading south towards Wichita. Photo: Jane ONeill

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We discover that trucks work in convoys during blizzards effectivly clearing the road of snow. Photo: Jane ONeill

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Blizzard !...terrible road conditions I 135 north of Wichita. Photo: Jane ONeill

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Jacknifed truck north of Wichita I 135. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Photo: Clyve Herbert

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We stick to the truck tracks north of Wichita. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Photo: Clyve Herbert

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This what driving in a Kansas blizzard is like ...OMG!!! Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Photo: Clyve Herbert
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Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Outskirts of Wichita KS Photo: Clyve Herbert
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Wichita. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Almost impassable road approaching Wichita airport Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Snow plows clearing Wichita Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Wichita railyards. Photo: Jane ONeill
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Large drain in Wichita icing up. Photo: Jane ONeill

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Our mascot for 2013 Beaker poses for the camera. Photo: Jane ONeill

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Slowing traffic struggles through Wichita. Photo: Jane ONeill

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One of many vehicles off the road south of Newton Kansas Photo: Jane ONeill

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Photo: Jane ONeill

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We were amazed how some of the locals sped past and ended up like this guy ! Photo: Jane ONeill

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Another truck off the road ! Photo: Jane ONeill

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Things go better with coke....sort of....Photo: Jane ONeill

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Another road convoy...HWY 50...Photo: Jane ONeill

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Home at last...Photo: Jane ONeill

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Local cop on patrol Hillsboro...Photo: Jane ONeill

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Another icicle car...Photo: Jane ONeill

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Main street Hillsboro early afternoon 26F. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Hillsboro KS Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Chase base Hillsboro.Photo: Clyve Herbert
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Photos: Clyve Herbert

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Hillsboro park. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Cold cemetery Hillsboro Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Marker flag in a snow drift Hillsboro. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Walking path Hillsboro. Photo: Clyve Herbert

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Our AWD chase vehicle Hillsboro KS..Photo: Jane ONeill

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Main street Hillsboro.

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Our chase base Hillsboro. Photo: Jane ONeill

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Measuring snow Hillsboro. Photo: Jane ONeill

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First use of the snow shovel, Chase base Hillsboro Photo: Jane ONeill

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Icicle car Hillsboro KS Photo: Jane ONeill

Stay tuned for the next episode...

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