Heavy rain, snow leave roads a mucky mess
Mother nature hits county with month’s worth of rain in one night, then snow
More than a month’s worth of cold, winter rain that doused Marion County Sunday night, followed by heavy snow on Tuesday, turned roads into a slick and mucky mess that sent several cars skidding.
On Monday, two drivers who were unfamiliar with the county’s roads got stuck in deep mud, sheriff Robert Craft said.
One car became stranded on a county road near Ramona, the other on 270th St. west of US-77, he said.
“Going down dirt roads in these conditions is not advisable to anybody,” he said. “Now that they have frozen and thawed out they get very muddy and it is very easy to get stuck,” he said.
By Tuesday morning the department had responded to six or seven slide-offs near Hillsboro and a few more minor accidents as rain turned into snowfall.
Craft said most area drivers are mindful of slick roads caused by bad weather but warned the real condition of a route can be deceptive.
“Sometimes these conditions creep up on you too fast and you don’t realize what the situation is until you are in it,” he said.
An abnormal winter
Mother Nature started soaking the county Sunday night and by 6 a.m. Monday an inch to inch-and-a-half of rain had fallen, said Eric Metzger, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Wichita.
The normal average rainfall in the county for the entire month of February is an inch.
But even an inch of rainfall during winter in Kansas is very uncommon, he said.
“One inch of rain before mid-March is a lot of rain,” he said. “That’s not normal. If people get stuck in the mud, this is why.”
Temperatures in the 40s also prevented precipitation from being absorbed into the soil as it would be during warmer weather, he said.
“Many clay soils, when they get below 45 degrees, start acting like they are frozen and don’t take moisture.
So it creates a muddy situation very quickly,” he said.
By Tuesday, the record rains had turned to heavy snows with Lehigh and Goessel already reporting six inches and Hillsboro two in the early afternoon, said weather service forecaster Paul Howerton.
Marion and Peabody were on the northern fringe of a band of heavier snow expected to hit further south.
“I would expect, this is my best guess, at this point there could be another inch or two on top of whatever you have there now,” he said.
By Tuesday night the snow is expected to taper off to flurries with chilly temperatures in the mid-30s expected Wednesday.
But by this weekend, a warming trend is expected to help dry out the county with clear skies and highs in the 60s for Saturday and Sunday.
Last modified Feb. 26, 2020