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UPDATE: Kansas City Airport closes; whiteout conditions spread

Thursday, February 21, 2013 | 9:45 a.m. CST; updated 7:52 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 21, 2013

Storms bring 'thundersleet' to Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD — You may have heard of the phenomenon known as "thundersnow."

But have you ever heard of "thundersleet?"

Springfield radio station KTTS reports that's a problem now in southwest Missouri, where the winter storm that's dumping huge amounts of snow in the north is bringing sleet and ice to the south.

In "thundersnow" events, thunderstorms form higher in the atmosphere where temperatures are warmer. That rain turns to snow before reaching the ground, with the above thunderstorm pushing the precipitation down with extra intensity.

Today, that precipitation is becoming sleet across portions of southwest Missouri, and it's causing concerns about collecting on power lines.

So far, only a handful of power outages have been reported.

Snowstorm shuts down KC airport

KANSAS CITY — Heavy snow has forced the closure of the Kansas City International Airport.

Airport officials announced on Twitter shortly before 10 a.m. that whiteout conditions had forced the airport to shut down. Earlier, conditions had reduced air traffic to a single runway, and maintenance workers were having trouble seeing each other through the blinding snow.

It wasn't certain when the airport would reopen and how many flights were affected. Travelers are being urged to check their flights frequently and monitor local media before making the trek to the airport.

Governor declares state of emergency

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in response to a winter storm sweeping across the state.

Nixon said Thursday that the State Emergency Operations Center has been activated. The declaration also allows state agencies to coordinate directly with cities and counties to provide emergency services.

The governor issued the declaration from his office in the Capitol, where he was one of only a few people actually in the building. The House and Senate canceled their sessions Thursday, and most of their offices were closed.

A lone tour guide staffed a Capitol reception desk, but no one had braved the snow to visit the Capitol.

Across western Missouri, whiteout conditions from storm

KANSAS CITY — Snow is falling fast and furious across parts of Missouri.

Across wide sections of northwest Missouri, whiteout conditions dropped visibility to a point that made driving too risky. The winds and heavy snow — falling as much as 2 inches per hour — removed buildings from view.

In Kansas City, the skyline disappeared behind a veil of snow. Flakes were falling so fast that plows trying to cross the city simply couldn't keep up.

Kansas City was expected to get up to a foot of snow before the storm exits the region later Thursday. Areas north of the city could see more than a foot.

Check your flight: Kansas City airport down to one runway

Whiteout conditions from the winter storm lumbering through the region have reduced the Kansas City International Airport to a single runway.

Airport spokesman Joe McBride said some flights are getting in and out of Kansas City, but he expects the airport will close at some point as the snow continues to fall and conditions worsen.

Many flights have been canceled, and travelers were urged to check their flights before making the trek to the airport.

McBride said the whiteout conditions were so bad at mid-morning that maintenance crews could barely see each other.

Ice, sleet hit roads in Springfield area

SPRINGFIELD — A sheet of ice and sleet moved across southwest Missouri, leaving roads in the Springfield region treacherous for drivers.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said Interstate 44 in the region was completely covered with ice about 7 a.m. and urged drivers to use extreme caution or stay off the road. Three non-injury accidents were reported on the interstate about 7 a.m., contributing to slow traffic.

Springfield media reported heavy, freezing rain moved through the city around 6 a.m.

Other reports included three-fourths of an inch of sleet in Sarcoxie, a half-inch of sleet near Bolivar, three-quarters of an inch of ice in Hickory County and about a half-inch of hail around Pierce City. So far, there are no reports of widespread power outages.


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