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Winter’s wrath has the KC area in its sights

Updated: 2013-02-26T16:30:19Z

By JOE ROBERTSON and MATT CAMPBELL

The Kansas City Star

Snow was expected to start falling in the Kansas City area just in time for this morning’s commute and could leave as much as 10 inches before it’s done.

“The intensity will ramp up quickly once it begins,” said Evan Bookbinder, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

On Wednesday night, the storm was barreling across Kansas, having dumped 5 inches of snow on Wichita by midafternoon. Most of Kansas and Missouri is in the projected path of heavy snow, sleet and high winds. Up to 18 inches was expected in parts of central Kansas.

Locally, officials wasted no time calling off activities for today.

Kansas state offices are shut down. More than 70 flights scheduled for today out of Kansas City International Airport had already been canceled.

Before many students went to bed Wednesday, several school districts had called off classes, including Kansas City, Liberty, Park Hill, North Kansas City, Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit on the Missouri side. Also closed are Olathe, Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission and Kansas City, Kan.

Park University, the University of Kansas and Kansas State University also canceled classes for today.

Weather can be fickle, but the forecasters were pretty confident about this storm. A winter storm warning is in effect until midnight.

“The roads are going to be extremely treacherous,” Bookbinder warned in an online briefing. “It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a winter storm of this magnitude.”

Generally, areas north of Interstate 70 will get more snow, and areas to the south could see more sleet, as well as thunder and lightning.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James spoke for many officials: If you don’t have to be out, please don’t be out.

Most everyone with a stake in weather safety was prepping for the worst.

City road crews, highway road crews and airport crews also will be mobilized.

“Ready when the first flakes fly,” said KCI spokesman Joe McBride.

Kansas City began applying salt brine to arterial and primary roads Tuesday evening.

Municipalities are asking residents not to leave cars parked on the streets because they impede snow removal. The Kansas Highway Patrol sent out alerts Wednesday afternoon that tow trucks would begin removing abandoned cars that evening along area interstates to clear the way for possible snowplowing today.

Utility crews with KCP&L planned to assemble one to two hours early at their service stations across its 47-county service area so they would be ready ahead of the morning rush hour, spokeswoman Katie McDonald said.

Snow can keep electric utility crews busy when cars crash into power poles, but the bigger problem could be south of Kansas City if ice and wind break power lines, McDonald said.

During the most recent winter storm in December, heavy snow began falling during the morning rush hour, and many utility crew members were stuck in traffic trying to get to their sites, she said. This morning, many crews planned to start 16-hour emergency shifts early to avoid potential traffic snarls.

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority buses will be running, but riders are advised to expect delays.

Many neighborhoods, but not all, can expect to have their trash service delayed a day.

Deffenbaugh Industries, which serves most of Johnson and Wyandotte counties and parts of Jackson County not including Kansas City, will not send trucks out today but push service back a day the rest of the week, spokesman Tom Coffman said.

Kansas City, which was already on a one-day-late schedule because of Presidents Day, will pick up trash today, but will not pick up recyclables so those crews can be assigned to snow removal.

Don’t be surprised if the trash trucks are running a little late, though, said public works spokesman Sean Demory.

Olathe, which runs its own service, will be picking up trash and recyclables as scheduled today, at least as long as the trucks are able to travel, said Kent Seyfried, the city’s solid waste manager.

Since the forecast warns that snow could be falling throughout the day today, evening events also could be affected if the storm is severe.

The Russian National Orchestra, which is performing at the Lied Center in Lawrence tonight, and the choral group Cantus, which is performing at the Folly Theater, both were arriving Wednesday, organizers said.

The Folly Theater expects its show to go on as scheduled, spokeswoman DeEtta Bohling said.

The Lied Center was certainly hoping “the show can go on,” spokeswoman Michele Berendsen said.

All Kansas state offices in the executive branch will be closed, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced. The Kansas Legislature also will not be in session today.

The National Archives at Kansas City announced that an appearance by Richard Barbuto, professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, has been postponed until this summer.

Also, a genealogy workshop devoted to African-American census research has been rescheduled to Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. at 400 W. Pershing Road.

To reach Joe Robertson, call 816-234-4789 or send email to jrobertson@kcstar.com. To reach Matt Campbell, call 816-234-4902 or send email to mcampbell@kcstar.com.

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