TOPEKA (KSNT) – A winter storm is brewing over the Colorado Rockies, and it has it’s sights set on Northeast Kansas next.

This large low pressure system will be bringing ‘near blizzard conditions’ to the area.

But what exactly does that mean?

The National Weather Service (NWS) is in charge of issuing all local warnings, watches and advisories of all types of weather. This includes: high winds, tornadoes, severe hail, wind gusts, snowfall and blizzard conditions just to name a few.

For the NWS to issue a blizzard warning, a few different things must happen:

  • Winds must be blowing at 30+ mph
  • Visibility must be less than 1/4 of a mile
  • Both of these must be sustained for at least 3 hours

Therefore, when the phrase ‘near blizzard conditions’ is used, it means that the criteria for a blizzard will be nearly met during the event.

In context with our incoming storm system, we are closely monitoring a few different aspects that will get Northeast Kansas close to these criteria.

The first is our winds. We’re expecting strong northerly winds with gusts over 30 mph. These strong winds will also be occurring when the heaviest snowfall is happening. That means that blowing snow will be very likely – thus lowering visibility considerably.

Heavy snowfall is forecast for much of the area just after midnight Wednesday. It appears that a particularly heavy band of snow will impact or northwestern counties. This will lead to a sharp cutoff in snow totals further south.