Kansas, Missouri prepare for winter storm

Monday, February 3, 2014 | 8:58 p.m. CST

KANSAS CITY — Kansas and Missouri braced Monday for more snow, even as they worked to clean up from an earlier round of winter weather.

The snow will begin falling across much of Kansas between midnight and 3 a.m. Tuesday and then rapidly move eastward into Missouri around daybreak, National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Bailey said. The snowfall is expected to spread across most of Missouri, except the southeast corner of the state, by early Wednesday afternoon.

Forecasts call for the western third of Kansas to get 2 to 4 inches of snow. Snowfall amounts will increase heading eastward, with the heaviest accumulations of 8 to 10 inches expected in northeastern Kansas, Bailey said.

In Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback ordered state offices in the Topeka area to remain closed, and the Legislature immediately canceled all of its meetings for the day.

Brownback said during a news conference that he wants to keep roads as free of traffic as possible and that while state workers probably could get to their offices safely, they'd likely have trouble returning home later. The governor also is giving agencies the discretion to close offices outside the Topeka area.

"If you don't have to travel, don't do it," Brownback said.

In Missouri, widespread 6- to 8-inch amounts are anticipated across the northern part of the state. Far south-central and southwest Missouri are expected to get no more than 3 inches of snow. Lesser amounts of snow are expected in eastern Missouri, with the Weather Service predicting about 3 inches for the St. Louis region.

As the snowfall tapers off from Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph are possible over most of Kansas and northern Missouri. By Thursday morning, temperatures are expected to drop to 10 to 15 degrees below zero along the Iowa border, with wind chills as low as negative 25 degrees possible.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said the gusts would create drifting conditions within minutes after plows have cleared highways. The department was urging employers to consider allowing people to work from home or take the day off.

Motorists who must travel were urged to keep fuel tanks as full as possible and to bring along a cellphone with a charger, a well-functioning flashlight, blanket, food and water.

In Kansas City, where some of the heaviest accumulations were forecast, crews were pretreating roads and city officials were urging residents to make plans to spend Tuesday indoors. The city said it has 175 snow plows for primary and arterial routes and 65 additional plows for residential areas.

Many schools across the Kansas City area already were closed on Monday after last week's storm laid a sheet of ice that hasn't melted.

In Johnson County, Kan., officials were heading the weather warnings and announced that the courthouse would be closed Tuesday.

Wichita, Kan., officials announced that 50 trucks were being put into use Monday to plow emergency routes around the clock until streets are cleared. The city said in a news release that previous storms have depleted its supply of salt and sand, leaving it with only enough material to treat emergency routes once. The city said it had placed an order for 3,000 tons of salt in December but that national demand has limited deliveries since that time.

Kansas Transportation Secretary Mike King said the state has 600 snow plows and 1,100 workers available to clear roads across the state.

"We can clear a road relatively quickly, and then with the strong winds coming, it can get drifted shut in just a matter of hours," King said.

Winter weather already caused problems in southeast Missouri on Sunday night. One to 3 inches of snow fell in the Cape Girardeau area. A Missouri Department of Transportation truck turned over on icy U.S. 61 at New Hamburg, the Southeast Missourian reported. No one was hurt.

It was among several accidents reported in the region Sunday night. Most were fender-benders and slide-offs. Concerns about ice-covered roadways persisted into Monday in southeast Missouri.

Bailey said another storm system is expected to hit Friday night and continue into Saturday, producing more snowfall across the two states.

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