Weather News

More than 200 rush hour crashes: It’s a rough start for KC metro’s winter driving season

The winter driving season got off to a rough start Thursday morning as black ice and frigid temperatures made rush hour roads slippery in the Kansas City metro area.

Police across the metro area responded to numerous crashes, including some that closed stretches of highways at the peak of the morning’s commute. It was unknown if all the crashes were weather related.

Kansas City police said on Twitter that during the rush hours — from 5 to 9 a.m. — they responded to 116 accident calls, including 77 that were injury wrecks.

That doesn’t include crashes where those involved walked into police stations to report the accident, Officer Doaa E-Ashkar, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department, said in an email.

One crash had life-threatening injuries and was being investigated by the KC police’s Accident Investigation Unit.

That crash involving a silver Honda Civic occurred shortly before 7 a.m. near 42nd Street and Prospect Avenue. The Honda was headed north on Prospect when the driver lost control and slammed into a tree.

Two people were taken to the hospital. The driver, who was wearing a seat belt, received non-life-threatening injuries. The passenger, who was not wearing a seat belt, was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

The age of the victims and what led up to the crash was still being investigated. It was unknown if road conditions caused by the weather was a factor, police said.

Lenexa police responded to 20 crashes in their city.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said troopers responded to 38 crashes and assisted 12 motorists on the Kansas side of the metro area.

“We will continue to see winter weather this time of year!” Trooper Candice Breshears, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Highway Patrol in the Kansas City area, said on Twitter. “Please remember that speed limits are for normal conditions and you’ll have to adjust driving for weather and road conditions.”

Overland Park police said it had 36 crashes..

The Missouri Highway Patrol responded to 141 crashes and 63 stranded motorists throughout it’s Troop A jurisdiction, which includes Baes, Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Platte, Ray and Saline counties.

The icy conditions were what remained after an early winter storm moved through the area overnight. The metro area saw between 1 and 2 inches of snow while 1 to 5 inches of snow fell elsewhere, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

Temperatures fell to 22 degrees in Kansas City, making this the second coldest Halloween in Kansas City’s 132-year history. The only colder Halloween occurred in 1993, when temps fell to 17 degrees, according to the weather service.

Reports of crashes and slide offs started rolling in early as wet roads from Wednesday night became covered in ice.

“If the road looks wet, assume there could be ice,” the weather service said in a statement.

Road temperatures fell into the mid to upper 20s early Thursday, so any surfaces that had not been treated could have developed black ice, especially bridges, overpasses and entrance and exit ramps.

Sidewalks and parking lots also proved treacherous in some areas. RideKC urged transit riders to use caution as they stepped on or off buses.

At the peak of rush and with crashes piling up, the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Kansas City District tweeted out a two words of advice.

“Slow. Down.”

Related stories from Kansas City Star

Robert A. Cronkleton gets up very early in the morning to bring readers breaking news about crime, transportation and weather at the crack of dawn. He’s been at The Star since 1987 and now contributes data reporting and video editing.