KANSAS CITY — A fresh round of freezing rain and snow slickened roads across a large swath of Kansas and Missouri on Sunday.
Numerous accidents were reported, and the National Weather Service issued a series of winter weather advisories urging caution.
The wintry precipitation began falling Saturday and continued into Sunday. The hardest-hit part of Kansas was the north-central section of the state, where 6-inch accumulations were recorded. Two inches fell in the northwest and 2 to 4 inches accumulated in the state's far northeast section. Light snow and freezing drizzle were reported in south-central, southeast and central Kansas, said Kris Craven, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Topeka, Kan.
Police in Topeka said that because of the high volume of weather-related accidents, officers wouldn't be sent to the scene of most accidents. The department planned to focus on hit-and-run accidents and those involving injuries and intoxicated drivers.
"It hasn't been real heavy," Cravens said of the snowfall, "but it's been enough to cause problems."
In Missouri, an inch fell at Kansas City International Airport and 3 to 4 inches in the northwest part of the state. North-central and northeast Missouri had received about half an inch by around noon and were expected to get another half inch, said Mike July, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Kansas City suburb of Pleasant Hill, Mo.
He said that only a light dusting was reported in parts of southern Missouri that already were digging out from 6- to 12-inch accumulations.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that numerous vehicles slide off ice-covered roads. Several injuries were reported, but no fatalities.
"Folks are having to relearn how to drive in winter weather," July said.
Drivers beware. With bitterly cold temperatures settling in over a big chunk of the country, highway officials are warning people to stay off slick roads and, if they must go out, take extra care when getting behind the wheel.
Sgt. Mike Watson, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said drivers should prepare before leaving their homes.
Some of his tips:
- Make sure cellphones are charged, and bring a charger.
- Fill up the gas tank. Stash booster cables, blankets, flashlights and an ice scraper in the car.
- Put a bag of sand or cat litter in the trunk, in case needed for traction if stuck in ice.
- If you do get stuck on the road, call for help, he said. And while waiting inside a running vehicle, make sure tailpipes are clear from obstructions.
One other important suggestion from Watson: Stranded motorists should stay inside their vehicles while they wait for help. It could make it easier for emergency crews to find stranded drivers and it provides shelter, he said.
"If you start walking, especially in a storm, you could get lost fairly quickly, depending on the visibility," he said. "Don't overexert yourself whether to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. You can always tie a cloth or some brightly colored item to your vehicle."
Randy Ort, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Highway Transportation, has one other tip for drivers if they get stuck on a highway: Try to move over to the shoulder.
"If they do find themselves where the vehicle cannot go — we do ask that they do the best job to get it out of the travel lane," he said.