Foot of snow hits some areas; System produces lightning, tornado on Leap DayA large, low-pressure system brought heavy rain followed by thick snow Tuesday night and into Wednesday, Leap Day, blanketing the Mitchell region in snow and ice and making the so-called “extra day” an unpleasant one for many.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
Maybe it’s a good thing Leap Day only comes every four years.
A large, low-pressure system brought heavy rain followed by thick snow Tuesday night and into Wednesday, Leap Day, blanketing the Mitchell region in snow and ice and making the so-called “extra day” an unpleasant one for many.
Wednesday morning, Mitchell residents could be seen clearing the 3.4 inches of snow that fell overnight and into the morning.
Before the switchover to snow, Mitchell received about 1 inch of rain Tuesday.
During the periods of rain Tuesday night, some people saw flashes of lightning. According to National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Weisser, the storm carried isolated pockets of unstable air that caused the lightning.
“This is a very rare event for this time of year; this type of activity would generally be associated with a storm we would see during late March or early April,” Weisser said.
The same system brought Nebraska’s first-ever-reported February tornado.
The twister touched down just outside the west-central Nebraska town of Gandy. No damages or injuries had been reported.
Wessington Springs was one of the hardest hit areas in the state.
Residents there woke up to nearly 12 inches of new snow Wednesday.
The area between Chamberlain and Presho saw approximately 6 inches of new snow.
To make matters worse, a thick sheet of ice caused by Tuesday’s rain coated roads underneath the snow, making travel difficult.
Most schools in the area were canceled or at least started late because of the conditions, and many activities were canceled Monday and Tuesday before the first flake even hit the ground.
Interstate 90 from Murdo to Chamberlain in both directions were closed early Wednesday morning along with Interstate 29 from Watertown to Fargo. Both reopened Wednesday afternoon.
As if the snow and ice weren’t bad enough, winds from the northwest reached as high as 40 mph Wednesday in Mitchell, reducing visibility in open areas.
No snow is forecast for the area in the immediate future. Mitchell’s temperature today is expected to reach around 38 with winds calming to around 10 mph.
For Friday, expect much of the same with a high temperature around 35.