A storm of smaller proportions than the one in December hit southwest Kansas Friday, with parts of the region expected to receive 4 to 6 of snow through Friday evening and into Saturday.
The event was less impactful than the blizzard that whirred through the area on Dec. 27, said Larry Ruthi, a meteorologist at the National Weather Center in Dodge City. The previous storm, which saw wind speeds up to 60 mph, left Finney County in about six inches of snow and ice that lingered for days.
Friday’s snowfall was heaviest from Hugoton up through Haskell and Gray counties, and in Finney County east of Garden City, likely piling up 4 to 6 inches, Ruthi said.
By press time Friday, National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Tatro said counties surrounding Finney County had largely seen 2 to 4 inches of snow, with 3 to 4 inches in Scott City and Dighton and about 3 inches near Ulysses. Reports for most other counties, including Finney County, were not yet available, he said.
The afternoon rain turned quickly to snow, meaning the area would not be stuck with a layer of freezing rain, he said. However, road conditions could still be affected by slush on roads freezing overnight, he said.
On Wednesday, the Kansas Division of Emergency Management urged civilians in a press release to avoid road travel during the hazardous weather conditions.
Those who must travel should leave with a full tank of gas, a charged cell phone and stocked emergency kit, including blankets, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone charger, hand-warmers, high-energy food snacks, bottled water, necessary medications, a snow shovel, flares and other emergency supplies, according to the release.
AAA Kansas representatives said in a press release that they expected an increase in emergency roadside service as the weather worsened and that slide-offs and crashes due to slick roads, battery or non-start problems and flat tires were common issues. If drivers brave the roads, they suggested checking road conditions frequently, accelerating and decelerating slowly, maintaining a larger following distance, calmly maneuvering skids, applying steady pressure to brakes and avoiding stopping.
The Kansas National Guard’s Stranded Motorists Assistance Response Teams are on standby to assist local law enforcement with stranded drivers, if needed, and Kansans can call 511 or visit kandrive.org to look into road conditions, the KDEM release stated.
Closer to home, the City of Garden City spent Friday prepping for the incoming storm, said Sam Curran, director of Public Works. The department made strides to correct issues that delayed progress during the Dec. 27 storm, he said. By the afternoon, all equipment was prepped and ready to roll, and the team in charge of plowing roads had completed practice routes to better prepare newer employees, he said.
“We should be able to stay in front of it a little better...” Curran said. “We don’t anticipate the same problems we had with the first one.”
Curran said the department laid down salt and sand after the rain subsided and began plowing roads once about an inch of snow had accumulated. Their first priority was to clear primary roads, or larger roads and safety routes to St. Catherine Hospital, such as Mary Street, Kansas Avenue, Fulton Street, Campus Drive, Taylor Avenue, Fleming Street, Third Street and Eighth Street, among others, and secondary roads, or roads surrounding schools, post offices and first responders, he said. Once those were completed, they would move into residential areas to salt and sand and ease drifting issues.
Crews would be on the roads Friday and Saturday until the snow stops, Curran said.
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