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‘A difficult storm’ causes slick roads in KC area, closing schools, delaying flights

The Kansas City area is no longer under an ice storm warning as of Tuesday afternoon, but it is under a winter weather advisory until 9 p.m., according National Weather Service.

The weather service warned, however, that “very treacherous conditions” were still expected to affect commuters.

Earlier the day, as freezing rain fell across the Kansas City area, commuters and road crews around the metro were hampered, including at KCI airport, while power outages were reported and schools closed by the dozens.

Earlier in the day, KCP&L reported about more than 60 outages affecting more than 3,300 customers in the metro. According to the company’s outage map. By 2:45 p.m., at least 56 outages remained with more than 600 affected. The company said on its Twitter account that crews were out making repairs to restore service in these areas.

Most major school districts canceled classes on Tuesday, including in Kansas City, Johnson County, Lee’s Summit, Kansas City, Kan., and school districts in the Northland. The University of Missouri-Kansas City announced it would close its campus at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday (too late to catch some students before they drove to school) and classes and activities for the rest of the day also have been canceled.

At KCI, Southwest Airlines canceled nearly all flights before 1 p.m. Tuesday, and American and United have canceled some as well. Several others have been delayed. Travelers can check flykci.com for flight information.

Kansas City Aviation Department crews were out Tuesday morning treating the runways with specialized deicing chemicals at the airport, according to Joe McBride with the aviation department.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported multiple accidents but a public information officer was not available before noon Tuesday to provide information on those locations.

The Kansas Department of Transportation said crews had plowed areas of sleet and ice and had treated all the major highways on the Kansas side of the metro area with salt.

“We’ve got the main lines plowed and salt down,” said spokeswoman Laurie Arellano. “Drivers are seeing wet roads, which means the salt is effective.”

She said crews will be out all day and into the evening, checking for re-icing and plowing any areas of icy buildup. She also noted traffic was fairly light because many people were staying home, helping to keep the roads safer.

Sean Reilly, city spokesman for Overland Park, said road crews reported to work at 4 a.m. Tuesday, but at that time, temperatures were above freezing. They saw that the forecast was calling for heavy rain in the early morning hours so they held off treating the roads since the rain would just wash it away.

Reilly said they don’t generally treat roads during morning rush hour, but they did start the work at 8 a.m. and would continue throughout the day.

He said this type of storm is challenging, since it involved spurts of rain and then freezing rain, which can impede the treatments.

“This is a difficult storm to work,” Reilly said.

Kansas City crews also struggled to stay ahead of the icy buildup on roadways, especially on residential streets.

Public Works spokeswoman Beth Breitenstein said crews started out at 8 a.m. but spurts of rain throughout the morning washed off the salt they had put down. She said some treated surfaces refroze with the additional precipitation and falling temperatures.

She said crews were trying to get back to those refreezing areas Tuesday afternoon as the precipitation let up. But falling temperatures created new challenges, and Breitenstein said motorists should be very aware of the risk for refreezing into the night.

Breitenstein said some plows were out on major Kansas City arterials to plow any accumulating slush. But some residents complained that no plows were evident in the residential areas that were also quite icy and treacherous.

The Kansas City district of the Missouri Department of Transportation reported in a tweet that crews were out treating elevated areas with rock salt.

The Missouri Highway Patrol responded to at least six accidents in the morning. No injuries were reported but officials urged motorists to be careful. The icy road conditions also caused at least six accidents in Platte County.

Chris Bowman, a National Weather Service meteorologist in the Pleasant Hill office, said early Tuesday the intensity of rain was coming through eastern Kansas early Tuesday and heading toward the Kansas City area.

“What we’re seeing out to the west out in Kansas are conditions that are starting to deteriorate on the roads and that’s all moving this way with rain and even some embedded thunderstorms,” Bowman said.

In the metropolitan Kansas City area, the weather service said the northwest part of the metro may see up to three-tenths of an inch of ice and possibly less on the southeastern side due to temperatures lingering at around freezing, Bowman said.

MoDOT and the National Weather Service are encouraging people to drive with caution.

“There could be slick spots out there even with MoDOT and KDOT treating the roads. Just slow down, that’s really the biggest thing,” Bowman said. “Slow down and leave some extra time to get to work.”

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