The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning that will be in effect Wednesday evening into Thursday morning as the first significant snow of the 2012-2013 season is expected to move into the area.
Strong winds with gusts as high as 45 mph early Thursday will reduce visibilities in some areas to near zero because of blowing and drifting snow, especially in northern and western parts of the region, including Lawrence, Topeka and St. Joseph.
The highest amounts of snowfall are expected across western and northern Kansas, and far northern Missouri.
The Kansas City metropolitan area is expected to see one to three inches of snow, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.
Light rain is expected to develop as early as Wednesday afternoon near the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska borders. Rain is expected to turn to snow Wednesday evening. The amount of falling snow will intensify into Thursday morning when it will gradually diminish by mid-morning, according to the Weather Service.
In the areas north of the U.S. 36 corridor by St. Joseph, total snow accumulations is expected to be up to seven inches, with the highest amounts near the Iowa border.
The snow is expected to make traveling conditions on U.S. 36 and Interstates 29 and 35 hazardous. The Weather Service is urging those who are traveling Wednesday night into Thursday to consider alternative plans.
In Kansas, snow is expected to begin falling across north-central Kansas around 4 p.m., spreading into northeast Kansas by 9 p.m. and central Kansas by midnight, according to the National Weather Service in Topeka.
The heaviest snow is expected to fall between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 3 a.m. Thursday, with the falling snow coming to an end by 6 a.m. Thursday.
Total snow and ice accumulations are expected to be between three and five inches with the heaviest amounts northeast of the Kansas Turnpike.
The Weather Service is warning that conditions can deteriorate rapidly in winter weather situations, so people should plan extra travel time and keep an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle in case of an emergency.