‘Near whiteout conditions’ expected as KC area braces for possible blizzard

Blizzard hits Kansas City with heavy snow, strong winds

Blizzard-like conditions hit the National Weather Service Central Region office in Kansas City with heavy snow and strong winds.
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Blizzard-like conditions hit the National Weather Service Central Region office in Kansas City with heavy snow and strong winds.

Update: See the latest story “Blizzard warning issued for Kansas City area as Thanksgiving travelers head home” for more on the winter storm and traveling conditions around the Kansas City area.

As a strong storm approaches northeastern Kansas and northern Missouri, the National Weather Service is warning of potential “blizzard-like” weather and dangerous travel conditions Sunday in the Kansas City area.

Ahead of the storm, a blizzard warning was issued for the Kansas City area, and is expected to be in effect from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, according to the Kansas City National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

The warning includes Leavenworth, Wyandotte, Johnson counties in Kansas and Platte, Clay, Ray, Lafayette and Jackson counties in Missouri.

Sunday’s forecast calls for as many as 9 inches of snow in some areas north of Interstate 70 under the blizzard warning. Along and south of I-70, the Weather Service said about 1 to 5 inches of snow are expected, with the lower amounts south of Route 50.

Winds are estimated to be around 40 to 50 mph, causing blowing snow and snow-covered roads “leading to dangerous travel,” the Weather Service said in a tweet Saturday night.

Rain in the forecast early Sunday morning is expected to transition to snow around 9 to 10 a.m. in the Kansas City area. The chance of precipitation is 100 percent.

While the greater Kansas City area generally could see anywhere from 1 to 5 inches of snow, Ryan Cutter, a meteorologist with the Weather Service, said the north side of the city may get 4 to 5 inches while the south side could get around 1 to 2 inches — but that could change depending on the storm’s movement.

“Those could easily get shifted up by an inch or two if this storm wiggles a little farther to the south,” Cutter said Saturday night. “But regardless of the snowfall amounts tomorrow, once it kicks over to snow in the morning, you can expect those strong, gusty winds …It’s going to be blowing that snow around — basically blizzard-like conditions at times across Kansas City.”

February 2014 was the last time the Kansas City area received 3 inches of snow or more, according to the weather service.

A blizzard warning was also issued for other parts of northeastern Kansas and northern Missouri, and will be in effect from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Dec. 19, 2012, was the last time the Kansas City National Weather Service office issued a blizzard warning, according to Cutter.

“Regardless of what kind of products we here at the weather service put out — whether it’s a winter weather advisory, a winter weather warning or even a blizzard warning — tomorrow’s weather is not going to be pleasant either way. It’s going to be dangerous,” Cutter said, adding that the combination of heavy snow and 40 to 50 mph winds will reduce visibility, making travel on the roadways particularly treacherous.

Travel on Sunday during the storm is “highly discouraged due to these potential impacts,” the weather service earlier said in its tweet Saturday.

Make sure you and your car are prepared for cold weather by making your own vehicle safety kit. Many of the items the National Weather Service of Kansas City shows in this video are things you probably already own.

Crews with the Kansas Department of Transportation in the Kansas City area have started making plans ahead of the storm. In a tweet, KDOT said crews are preparing to come in overnight and start plowing and treating the roads as rain turns to snow Sunday morning. It has also asked drivers to avoid traveling during this time.

The Missouri Department of Transportation posted on Twitter that those who must travel on the roads Sunday should check the traveler maps ahead of time for road conditions.

In a news release Saturday, a spokesman for Kansas City International and Charles B. Wheeler Downtown airports announced employees would begin coming in 5 a.m. Sunday to help keep runways, taxiways, roadways and parking lots clear of snow and ice.

Travelers were also reminded to visit flykci.com to check the status of their flight in the event of inclement weather.

More information about the snow and ice removal process at the airports is posted online.