Snow blanketed the state, southwest Kansas especially, Wednesday night and Thursday morning, resulting in many local closures of roads and stores, and power outages within Garden City limits.
After declaring a state of disaster for the state Wednesday, Gov. Jeff Colyer urged motorists to be aware of unsafe driving conditions.
"We want people to think twice about when they're driving. Do it it daylight hours. Make sure that you're observing rules of the road," Colyer told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Midday reports showed that Scott City caught the bulk of the snowfall with 9 inches, and both Lakin and Lane County saw 7 inches, said Larry Ruthi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Center in Dodge City. Finney County was hit with about 6 inches, Deerfield with 4.5 and Syracuse with 4.2, Ruthi said. Grant County and Gray counties saw spatterings of 2 to 3 inches, he said.
Drifts hit as high as two to three feet, said Gilbert Valerio, director of Finney County Emergency Management.
The storm, which included up to 60 mph winds throughout the region, was the largest single-day snowfall Garden City has seen since March 2009, Ruthi said, since the area’s 2017 blizzard largely spanned two days.
The storm led to local closures on I-70 in western Kansas, U.S. Highway 50 westbound from Garden City to the state line, Kansas Highway 25 northbound out of Lakin, Kansas Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 160 both closed out of Morton County, said Kansas Highway Patrol Capt. Randall Mosher. By the end of the day, most roads had reopened, though many were heavily covered by snow, according to Kandrive.org.
The KHP had seen dozens of slide-offs and some minor accidents in the area, Mosher said, but nothing serious. State teams assisted local officers in responding to stranded or struggling motorists, Valerio said.
There were resources for those braving the road within city limits as well. The American Red Cross, Finney County Emergency Management and Thomas County Emergency Management partnered to open temporary warming centers in Garden City, Holcomb and Colby, according to a press release. The centers offered shelter, food, water, information and other resources to those stuck away from home.
Closer to home, Garden City was hit with strings of isolated power outages throughout all areas of town, said Cliff Sonnenberg, Garden City electric department superintendent. He said the department answered calls from about 2 a.m. to 3 p.m., ultimately getting all residences back online by the latter, but saw a die down after the wind speeds reduced.
Garden City and Finney County offices both closed for the day, though representatives from both expected to be open Friday. The Sienna Medical Clinic, Convenient Care Clinic, Plaza Medical Center, Women's Clinic and Heart Center & Wound Care in Garden City, as well as Ulysses Family Physicians in Ulysses, all closed for the day, St. Catherine Hospital Community Relations Coordinator Shawna Deal said in an email.
Harvest and processing operations were also shut down for the day at Tyson Fresh Meats in Holcomb due to hazardous road conditions.
The Garden City Regional Airport cancelled its Wednesday night, Thursday morning, afternoon and evening and Friday morning flights, said Director of Aviation Rachelle Powell. Following early white-out and zero-visibility conditions, airport staff attempted to plow the runway, but were met with an inch to inch-and-a-half solid layer of ice that they have not yet been able to remove with equipment or chemical treatment, Powell said Thursday afternoon.
Staff was attempting to reopen the runway for flights as soon as possible and passengers should check the airport’s Facebook page for updates, Powell said. She said the airport had not faced this level of issues with a frozen runway in years.
Contact Amber Friend at firstname.lastname@example.org.