The Superior Express -

Thankfully we got rain not snow

Record setting snow falls on Colorado, Wyoming


March 18, 2021

Superior received nearly three inches of rain over the weekend. The gentle rain soaked the dry earth and produced little runoff. This water stands around the pump house near the lagoon in Lincoln Park.

The term "million dollar rain" is often applied to summer rain events that come during a drought period but we think it is an appropriate term to describe the rain that started falling on this area Saturday and continued through Monday.

Had the temperature been a few degrees cooler, delivery of this week's newspaper would likely have been delayed by blocked roads and the cost to clear away the snow would have been substantial.

Heavy snow in Colorado and Wyoming closed both I-70 and I-80 and grounded more than a 2,300 airplane flights serving the Denver airport. Road crews did not expect to have I-80 reopened until Tuesday night. Closure of the interstates filled motels and parking lots into the central parts of the two states.

The late season snowstorm laid siege to parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Western Nebraska and South Dakota on Saturday and Sunday dumping snow measured in feet not inches and setting historical snowfall marks in two state capitals.

Cheyenne received more than 30 inches of snow which topped the previous record of 25.2 inches for a two-day storm and 25.6 inches for a three-day storm. Both were set in 1979.

Denver International Airport recorded 27.1 inches on Saturday and Sunday and also set a record for a two-day storm. Denver has had more snow but those storms lasted longer. For example in 1913 a mammoth storm produced 45.7 inches in five days and 37.4 in two of those days. Nearly 40 inches of snow fell at Red Feather Lakes, Colo.

Dust kicked up by the storm in Mexico and Texas accompanied the rain or snow in some areas. Some of that dust was washed out of the storm as a red slime. In other areas a brownish snow fell.

In the warmer parts of Nebraska, where the storm delivered rain instead of snow, as much as 7 inches of rain were received.

Heavy rain in Webster, Franklin and Adams counties sent the Republican and Little Blue Rivers into flood stage but the flooding in Nuckolls County was minor.

Before the rains came, ponds were low and the ground dry. The rain came in a series of showers which allowed most of it to be captured with little runoff. Sunday afternoon the Republican River at Superior was not covering the sandbars. The river came up to near bankful in the overnight hours when water from the west reached Nuckolls County.

What made this storm memorable was an unusually slow moving upper-level low-pressure system.

Weather forecasters had given more than a week's advance notice of the approaching storm.

Runoff from the rain has nearly filled Lovewell Lake's conservation pool and brought the Harlan County Reservoir's pool to about three-fourths of a foot from the conservation level. With the lakes at the current level, there should be adequate water for the 2021 irrigation season.


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