Kansas braces (again) as blizzard roars across Texas Panhandle

Less than a week after a historic blizzard, Kansas is bracing for another. The storm, which brought strong winds to the Texas Panhandle, could leave more than a foot of snow.

Zach Long/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal/AP
Vehicles navigate Interstate 27 during blizzard conditions in Lubbock, Texas, Monday. State troopers are unable to respond to calls for assistance and National Guard units are mobilizing as a winter storm blankets the central Plains with a foot of snow in some places. Roads are closed Monday throughout West Texas and the Panhandle.

The central plains states that got walloped last Thursday with a foot or more of snow will get hit for the second time in less than a week late Monday as a new system from the Rocky Mountains travels across the Texas Panhandle on its way to the Northeast.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports the storm will deliver seven to 15 inches of snow through central Oklahoma, central Kansas, and northwest Missouri – the same area that is just now getting back to normal following last week’s storm.

Jim Keeney, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says that it is “unusual” for two weather systems to follow the same pattern in such a short time.

Big 10-inch snow events are fairly rare in the Kansas City area, and to have two in one week is pretty significant,” Mr. Keeney says. “It’s impressive no matter where you are in the country.”

Perhaps one welcome bit of news for many people living in those states is that the snow won't fall as fast as it did last week. The NWS reports that snow will fall at a rate of 0.5 to 1 inch an hour. Last week, snow was coming down at a rate of several inches per hour. This week's storm is expected to last 24 hours.

Snow will start to fall in Kansas City, Mo., at 6 p.m. Monday. The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed interstates in southwest Kansas that lead into the Oklahoma Panhandle. Citing slick roads and low visibility, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has shut down these same highways on the Oklahoma side until the storm passes. Nonessential patrol personnel have been told not to return to work until Wednesday.

Local officials in Kansas City are telling people to stay home from work to avoid dangerous road conditions. Voters in Tuesday’s primary election in the state are being urged to cast their ballots Monday; the deadline to turn in advance ballots was extended from noon Monday to 7 p.m.

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

At a press conference Monday, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback told residents they should not get on the road without emergency supplies. “Take this storm seriously,” he said. Governor Brownback closed most state executive branch offices Monday and some government offices and several school districts canceled closed in anticipation of the storm.

Keeney of the NWS says cities like St. Louis and Chicago will be spared the brunt of the storm because they are located on the warm side of the system, which means they will receive mostly freezing rains and lighter snowfalls. Overall, the Great Lakes region is expected to receive between six to nine inches of snow Wednesday through Thursday. The Ohio Valley will receive up to three inches.

Those living in what is expected to become the hardest-hit area for the storm warn that salt and sand supplies are low following last week’s storm. In Wichita, Kan., for example, the city is considering plowing just the center of arterial streets so that each direction has one lane. Last week, the city recorded its second-biggest snowstorm ever with 14.2 inches.

“It would have been nice if we’d had a few days to recover, to do some equipment rehab,” Joe Pajor, deputy director of public works in Wichita told the Wichita Eagle Monday.

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