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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Small chance for 'white Christmas' 

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  • Thursday's snowfall may be the closest Harvey County comes to having a white Christmas this year, and brought only a small amount of moisture, meteorologists say.While slick roads caused a number of accidents throughout the day, the snow quickly melted away in the afternoon sun Thursday."It just kind of came in pretty quick, and then was gone," said meteorologist Chris Jakub with the National Weather Service in Wichita.Don Gruver, assistant director of the Harvey County 9-1-1 Communications Center, said Thursday was a busy day for dispatchers — so busy, in fact, that staff didn't even have time to stop for a lunch break.From about 1:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, there were 44 vehicle slide-offs. Since 3 a.m., Gruver had recorded 22 non-injury accidents. One injury accident did occur around 12:30 p.m., with two patients being transported to Wichita in critical condition.Gruver said the first ice or snow storm of the season typically results in a higher number of accidents, as people try to become acclimated to driving in winter weather again.Jakub said about one inch of snowfall was recorded at the National Weather Service office in Wichita — not enough to make an impact on the area's year-long drought. According to Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center, it takes a foot or more of snow to equal an inch of water.Overall, the year's precipitation total for the Wichita area is about 7.41 inches below normal, and not much more precipitation is expected this year."Unless something crazy happens, it's not looking too good," Jakub said.A weather system moving into the area on Tuesday and Wednesday could bring another chance of snow. The current forecast for Christmas Day is "mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow. Highs 25 to 30. Lows near 15." The last time the Wichita area had a white Christmas was 2009, which brought about 3 inches of snow, Jakub said.The National Weather Service is predicting normal precipitation for the winter, and normal to slightly warmer than normal temperatures.— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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