Archive for Friday, March 27, 2009

Storm on its way to area; travelers urged to stay put

March 27, 2009, 3:15 p.m.

Updated: March 27, 2009, 7:37 p.m.

The National Weather Service is sticking by its prediction that the area will be hit by a major snowstorm overnight with up to 8 inches expected.

In issuing a winter storm warning early Friday, the National Weather Service in Park Hill, Mo., said “forecast models continue to depict an impressive early-season spring storm.”

The Kansas Department of Transportation said its crews were “prepared and readied to hit the roadways for treating and/or plowing when needed. The snow plows are loaded and our staff is readied for round-the-clock coverage throughout the upcoming winter storm.”

However, KDOT said, no pretreating was scheduled because wet precipitation preceding the snow would simply wash off the roadways.

Forecasters said the storm likely would begin as rain before midnight Friday and quickly change over to a wintry mix after midnight. By early Saturday, the mix is expected to switch over to a snowfall. Snow is expected through much of the day Saturday with snowfall rates possibly exceeding two inches per hour. Blustery north winds of 20-25 mph will also create areas of blowing snow.

Total accumulations may vary anywhere from 6-8 inches before the snow comes to an end late Saturday afternoon.

The NWS said the storm warning would remain in effect from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 p.m. Saturday

The snow is expected to be heavy and wet. Due to the recent emerged foliage, trees will be especially susceptible to buckle under the snow’s weight, which may lead to power outages.

At midafternoon Friday, The Associated Press was reporting 12 inches of snow — and drifts of up to four feet — in portions of far western Kansas. KDOT reported all U.S. and state highways in Grant, Stevens, Seward, Meade, Clark, Ford and Gray counties were closed in southwest Kansas because of whiteout conditions.

Both KDOT and the NWS urged people to stay put and only travel in an emergency. If you must travel, they urged, keep an extra flashlight food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Johnson County officials also are encouraging county residents to use caution on the roadways during the duration of the storm and its aftermath to minimize the risk to themselves as well as others on the road such as critical snow plows and emergency service vehicles. If travel is required, the county said, travelers should make sure they have emergency supplies in their vehicle along with a full tank of gasoline in case they are stranded or delayed.

Preparing to stay at home is also critical, county officials said. “It is absolutely vital to have an emergency preparedness kit in your home or residence that allows you to stay safe during significant weather events,” stated Nick Crossley, director of Johnson County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, “This kit needs to include bottled water, nonperishable food, medications, blankets, flashlights, and weather radio.” This is particularly critical if electrical power is disrupted due to the storm, he added.

For more information about the contents of a home emergency supply get, readers can visit the Johnson County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Web site or the Johnson County – A Community Prepared Web site.

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