Part of Interstate 70 in western Kansas is closed Thursday in both directions because of winter weather conditions, and Kansas Highway Patrol troopers said there was a fatality crash on the interstate.
I-70 between Goodland and Hays was closed Thursday, with the initial stretch of interstate closure coming at 10:35 a.m. There was no immediate word when it would reopen.
Kansas Department of Transportation officials said the interstate was closed because of visibility and wrecks.
A Kansas Highway Patrol trooper on Twitter said the fatality crash occurred by Oakley on I-70 near mile post 75, which is just east of Colby and west of WaKeeney. That area is now closed to traffic. No other information about the crash was immediately known.
The trooper said they had been working several crashes, including two serious injury crashes on I-70 in between Hays and Colby.
"Please stay off the roads and stay safe, give KDOT time to clear the them, it's not worth your life," Trooper Tod said on Twitter. "A hotel bill is cheaper than your insurance deductible (by the way)!"
There are winter weather warnings out Thursday for counties in western, southwest and northwest Kansas. Officials said to expect reduced visibility and changing road conditions.
The National Weather Service in Dodge City said there will be areas of blowing snow continuing all day. Rapidly changing visibility could be as low one-half mile at times in the blowing snow. Wind gusts will be commonly in excess of 40 mph. Areas west of the 283 corridor — which runs north and south through Dodge City, Jetmore, Ness City, and Wakeeney — will be most impacted by additional drifting.
Several other highways in western Kansas are closed Thursday morning as well, state officials said, including parts of K-25 in Wichita, Kearny and Grant counties; K-190 in Grant County; K-27 in Hamilton, Morton, Stanton and Greeley counties; K-51 in Morton County; U-40 in Wallace County; U-50 in Hamilton, Finney and Kearny counties; and U-56 in Morton County.
For up-to-date information on road closures and road conditions, check travel information online at www.kandrive.org, or call 511 in Kansas or 866-511-5368 outside Kansas.
A wintry mix is possible for parts of northeast Kansas on Thursday, the National Weather Service in Topeka said. Rain will likely transition to a mix of freezing rain and snow into the afternoon Thursday in areas such as Concordia, Marysville and Hiawatha in the northern part of the area. A light glaze and dusting of snow is possible, which would cause slick road conditions.
Gov. Jeff Colyer, interviewed after an event in DeSoto, said he signed a disaster declaration in advance to speed preparedness for the snow storm.
"I want people to be mindful of what the weather is doing," the governor said. "Don't go out unless you absolutely need to be out on the roads right now. We have crews that have been out salting and cleaning our roads. We're very fortunate that we didn't have a major ice storm component to this."
He said the added volume of traffic following Christmas made it more important for motorists to be wary of conditions in western Kansas.
"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," he said."
The declaration allows the state to utilize resources and personnel in affected counties.
This story is developing and will be updated.