WICHITA — Cancellations piled up with the snow today as a winter storm continued to pound much of Kansas and other parts of the Midwest.
Gov. Sam Brownback has declared a state of disaster emergency for 53 counties in Kansas — essentially the eastern half of the state — as a winter storm pounds much of the state.
At a news conference in Topeka, Brownback and Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the state's adjutant general, urged Kansans to stay off roads and highways.
"First and foremost, stay home," Brownback said. "Please stay home. Don't make yourself a victim.
"If you don't have to get out, don't get out."
Brownback said those who must travel should carry blankets, water and a cell phone in case they become stranded.
"The first option, and by far and away the best option, is to just stay home," he said. "This is probably going to continue for a couple of days."
Tafanelli said the storm's only fatality occurred Monday in northern Kansas when a 61-year-old Agra woman was killed when her vehicle left the road and overturned near Kensington.
"There have been numerous other accidents but no other fatalities," he said.
Tafanelli said most of the state was fortunate to escape the ice that covered much of Oklahoma and Missouri.
"The wind temperatures and wind speeds will cause the most significant threats over the next 48 hours," he said.
The emergency disaster declaration — which includes Sedgwick, Harvey, Butler and Sumner counties in the Wichita metropolitan area — allows the state's emergency response plan to be activated.
The declaration took effect at 6 a.m. today. The Adjutant General's office will be sending resources where needed, with ice accumulations, strong winds and up to 13 inches of snow forecast in portions of the state.
The second and third work shifts at both Hawker Beechcraft Corp. and Hawker Beechcraft Services locations have been canceled tonight because of the storm, company officials announced.
The Emergency Accident Reporting Plan is not in effect in the city of Wichita, but authorities nonetheless urged motorists to avoid travel if at all possible.
"We do ask people to be very careful out in this weather," Wichita police Lt. Doug Nolte said. "Be careful of drifting snow ... it can cause an accident."
More than 5 inches of snow had fallen in Wichita by early afternoon, and reports of a foot of snow were widespread throughout southeast Kansas, said Vanessa Pearce, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita.
The Kansas City metropolitan area was projected to receive between 9 and 11 inches of snow, with even heavier amounts northeast into Missouri.
Roads throughout the eastern part of the state were snow-packed and icy, and visibility was near zero at times in Wichita and frequently in southeast Kansas.
Dozens of arrivals and departures have been canceled so far today at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. Travelers should check with their airlines for the status of their flights.
The wind knocked out the vendor providing flight status information to the airport's www.flywichita.com site, so Valerie Wise, air service and business development manager for the Wichita Airport Authority, has been providing flight information via Twitter.
That Twitter feed can be accessed through http://twitter.com/FlyICT.
All Wichita Park and Recreation Centers and Wichita Public Libraries will close at 5:30 p.m., city officials announced. No adult or youth arts classes are being held at CityArts today.
An event celebrating International Students Day tonight at Wichita Ice Sports has been canceled. No make-up date has been set.
Snow should end later this evening in the Wichita area, Pearce said, though light flurries can be expected until about midnight.
Check Kansas.com for updates.