A second round of severe winter storms has begun to move into Kansas with the potential to drop a foot or more of snow in many areas.
Heavy snow is developing over the Texas-Oklahoma panhandles, and is expected to progress into the state from southwest to northeast through the next 24-36 hours. Snowfall amounts in excess of one foot are possible in the vicinity of the I-35 - Kansas Turnpike corridor southwest to Dodge City, tapering to three to six inches in the southeast and northwest regions. The potential exists for snowfall of 18-24 inches in south central counties. The storm system will likely move out of the state by mid-afternoon on Tuesday.
Rain and snow may start around 3 p.m. in Wyandotte County, with heavy snow likely starting around 7 p.m. Monday, according to National Weather Service forecasts.
“Take this storm seriously,” said Gov. Sam Brownback. “Postpone travel plans if you are in the path of the heaviest predicted snow. If you must travel, don’t get on the road without a charged cell phone, a full tank of gas and an emergency kit with food, water and other essentials.”
“Our State Emergency Operations Center is monitoring this closely,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management. “We have National Guard troops standing by ready to assist and are in constant communication with county emergency managers.”
The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed some roads in southwest Kansas due to hazardous driving conditions and low visibility. The closures so far are:
· U.S. 160 from Meade to Coldwater
· U.S. 283 from the Kansas-Oklahoma state line to Minneola
· U.S. 183 from the Kansas-Oklahoma state line to Coldwater
· K 34 from the junction of U.S. 160/U.S. 183/K-34, north to Bucklin
The following roads are closed southbound at the state line, but remain open in Kansas:
· U.S. 54 west of Liberal
· U.S. 56 at Elkhart
· U.S. 83 at Liberal
· K-25 in Stevens County
· K-23 in Meade County
Many roads in southwest Kansas and eastward are snow packed and icy, including U.S. 50 from Cimarron to Newton and U.S. 54 from Liberal to Pratt. Use caution if traveling and check road conditions first. Call 5-1-1 or go online to www.kandrive.org. For tips on winter driving, go to www.kansashighwaypatrol.org.
Tuesday, Feb. 26, is Election Day. Secretary of State Kris Kobach said he is encouraging people to submit an advance voting ballet. He will extend the deadline to turn in advance ballots to 7 p.m. today (Monday), rather than noon.
Local county officials will determine how elections will proceed based on their contingency plans. Andrew Howell, Shawnee County election commissioner, announced all voting on Tuesday for the City Primary Election will be held in Heritage Hall at the Kansas Expocentre at 17th and Topeka Boulevard from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Anyone with questions regarding voting in their jurisdiction should call their local election commissioner.
Due to the impending storms, Gov. Sam Brownback announced state executive branch offices are closed in 67 western and central counties all day Monday. The governor will stay in contact with officials in the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and may make further announcements as the situation warrants.
Some counties have closed government offices and several school districts have canceled classes for Monday, as well.
State disaster declaration
Gov. Brownback signed a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for the entire state on Wednesday. That declaration is being amended to include the current storm period. In addition to the governor’s declaration, 11 counties issued local declarations which are still in force. Those counties were Anderson, Chase, Franklin, Linn, Lyon, Pottawatomie, Osage, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee and Wyandotte.
A spokesman for the Board of Public Utilities stated that BPU line crews are ready to respond to outages and are prepared for this anticipated storm.
Customers, who experience an electrical outage, are reminded to call the electric outage hotline number directly at 913-573-9522 or online at www.bpu.com or via the BPU Facebook page.
BPU’s web site now features a “live” real-time electrical outage map that covers the utility’s entire service area. Customers can now see if an outage has been reported in their area, a summary of affected and restored customers, as well as the number of outage calls reported. To see this map, click on the “report outage” button on the BPU home page and the outage map is located on the next page. The BPU will also be sharing information on its social media sites.