New winter storm threatens another snowy mess for Kansas City

02/04/2014 10:17 AM

05/16/2014 9:15 PM

After the lesson of last week’s wintry onslaught, you’ve no excuse now: Take a minute to toss a snow shovel in the car.

Kansas City area residents are bracing for another dumping of white stuff — perhaps a foot of new snow in parts of the metro area by midday Tuesday.

“Monday morning should be fine for commuters to get where they need to go,” meteorologist Scott Blair of the National Weather Service station in Pleasant Hill said Sunday. “Tuesday morning could be treacherous.”

Expected snow accumulations, beginning around 6 p.m. today, to range from 6 to 10 inches across much of northeastern Kansas and western Missouri. “But there’s likely to be a narrow area of much higher amounts, where we could get a foot,” Blair said.

The weather service on Sunday issued a winter storm warning lasting 24 hours for the Kansas City area starting with light rain around 3 p.m. today.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback warned that the coming storm could be worse than the last one because of strong wind, ice and heavy snow accumulations. Kansans were urged to restock home and vehicle emergency kits with food, water, blankets, flashlights and medicine.

But local transit and public-works officials hope the timing of this one will leave us better prepared than Thursday’s storm did.

“The last time, the really heavy stuff began to fall after a lot of people were already at work, and they got stuck there,” said Cindy Baker, director of marketing for the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority. “The timing still looks bad for Tuesday morning but it just depends on how many people decide to stay home.”

About 60 buses became stuck in Thursday’s snow, and the system was completely shut down at 1 p.m. “We are doing everything we can to avoid that this time,” Baker said, but major changes such as snow tires or chains won’t be decided before the coming storm.

Area schools are expected to be open all day today. Independence Superintendent Jim Hinson said that he and other superintendents who usually discuss inclement-weather school closings “will be monitoring the weather and on Monday evening make decisions about whether to close on Tuesday.”

Johnson County Election Commissioner Brian Newby urged voters to cast their primary ballots at the election office this morning rather than brave the snow on Tuesday.

As the storm rolled Sunday into western Kansas, bringing sleet and the potential for 12-inch snowfall totals, the state activated its 24-hour Emergency Operations Center.

In a news conference Sunday evening in Topeka, Brownback urged residents to stay off the roadways if at all possible, and he ordered the closing of state offices in the southwestern, northwestern, north and south-central quadrants of the state, where snow had already begun falling. He said officials would decide today whether to close offices nearer to Kansas City.

In anticipation of road-clearing problems today, the city of Kansas City on Sunday called for residents to move parked cars from streets. Neighborhoods with only on-street parking are advised to park cars on the west side of north-south streets and on the north side of east-west roads.

“We need residents to help us finish the job ahead of this week’s storms,” said Mayor Sly James.

In Fairway, city officials have already announced a traffic emergency running from at least noon today until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Any vehicles parked on Fairway streets during the emergency could be towed.

Baker of the ATA said local bus travelers can expect full transit service at least through today. Snow reroute plans on subsequent days can be accessed on the authority’s website, www.kcata.org, or by calling the Regional Call Center at 816-221-0660 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays.

“A suspension of services would be a last resort,” she said.

Kansas City Power Light spokeswoman Courtney Hughley said Sunday the utility does not expect significant surprises if weather conditions are limited to extra snow.

“We’re up to date on our tree trimming,” lessening the risk of branches breaking from the weight of winter’s wrath, she said. “Ice and winds are the big things that can cause power problems.”

The crowd at Home Depot on Linwood Boulevard was preparing Sunday as well, even under a bright blue sky.

Eight-year-old Shea McGraw wrestled a 40-pound bag of ice melt stacked on pallets at the store’s entrance, next to tubes of sand and jugs of windshield de-icer.

Shea’s mother, Denise McGraw of Kansas City, said: “My husband and I are tag-teaming. Gasoline, ice, food, de-icer,” and for good measure, some doughnuts to bring home.

The remainder of the week ought to bring partly cloudy skies over Kansas City by Wednesday and no expected snowfall for several days.

Mará Rose Williams contributed to this report.

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