Weather

Ice storm warning issued for Kansas City area, roads may be slick and hazardous

Traffic cameras show dangers of slick, icy roads

Overland Park traffic camera videos show the dangers of slick, icy streets. The clips from the city's network of traffic cameras show what can happen when drivers are not careful in winter weather.
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Overland Park traffic camera videos show the dangers of slick, icy streets. The clips from the city's network of traffic cameras show what can happen when drivers are not careful in winter weather.

An ice storm warning was issued for the Kansas City area Wednesday with significant icing expected overnight into Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

Several school districts and churches canceled activities for Wednesday evening and Thursday.

“I know when people think ‘ice storm warning,’ they are thinking that trees are going to be crashing down and power is going to be out for a week, I don’t think we are going to see anything like that,” said Jared Leighton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

There could be some power outages because of downed power lines, the weather service warned.

Parents should expect some schools to be closed, so they should have a plan for childcare if needed, Leighton said.

Many school districts in Kansas and Missouri made the decision Wednesday night to cancel classes Thursday, including Kansas City Public Schools, Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, Blue Valley School District, Lee’s Summit School District and Independence School District.

Three students suffered minor injuries Wednesday when the school bus they were riding in overturned on an icy street in southeast Kansas City. The crash occurred in an apartment complex near President Court and Virginia Avenue.

“I think parents should definitely have that in the back of their mind that it is a probable occurrence,” he said. “Really at this point, we just need people off the roads. Let the road crews get their jobs done and get those roads treated because it’s not going to be very friendly.”

Throughout Kansas City, several crashes had already been reported Wednesday afternoon on major highways and side streets, police said.

Three students from Center Middle School had minor injuries after their school bus rolled onto its side while traveling on an icy street. The crash happened about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday as the bus drove around an apartment complex near President Court and Virginia Avenue. The driver was also injured.

The forecast also affected public transportation as RideKC said it would suspend all bus and paratransit services from 7 p.m. Wednesday until 8 a.m. Thursday.

By Wednesday afternoon, most of the Kansas City area had received between .125 and .25 of an inch of ice from persistent rounds of freezing rain and drizzle over the previous 24 to 36 hours, according to the weather service.

Dr. Todd Dain, Principal at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, shared a video of himself falling on the ice when he stepped out of his vehicle Wednesday.

Temperatures were not expected to rebound Wednesday night, so what already had fallen was likely to remain on the surface. Once the sun set, roads were expected to deteriorate again, becoming dangerous or impassible, possibly impacting evening and morning commutes.

By Thursday morning, an additional .25 to .5 inch of ice is expected to accumulate, according to the National Weather Service.

To complicate matters, strong, gusty winds were expected to rush in from the northwest Thursday morning. Winds were expected to be steady in the 20 to 30 mph range with gusts between 30 and 40 mph at times.

The combination of the ice and winds could snap tree limbs and power lines, causing scattered power outages. The threat is especially acute for tree limbs and power lines weakened by earlier winter storms, the weather service said.

Ahead of the impending ice storm, KCP&L said in a tweet its crews were standing by in the Kansas City area in case of outages.

The worst was expected Wednesday night, with the rate of freezing rain expected to increase overnight. The freezing rain is expected to move out of the area Thursday morning.

There is some uncertainty as to the amount of ice the area could get. The heavier it rains, the less the ice accumulates because it runs off before ice can form, according to the weather service. Also, some of the precipitation could fall as sleet.

The areas affected include several counties in the Kansas City region. The ice storm warning is expected to be lifted by noon on Thursday.

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Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.

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.

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