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‘Ground blizzard’: Wichita official warns of wind’s havoc

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, at 11:24 a.m.

Wichita street crews are ready to tackle streets that could be hit by blowing snow later today, a city official said Monday morning.

The big difference between the anticipated storm and the one that hit last week is the expected high wind, said Joe Pajor, deputy director of public works and utilities.

Even after the snowfall ends, the wind could create a “ground blizzard” of shifting snow, Pajor said.

East-west streets would be most vulnerable to snow drifts, from a storm that could bring 13 inches of snow, he said.

He gave this report on the ongoing cost of the snow: To help treat streets, the city has obtained 1,800 tons of straight sand, costing a little over $16,000. Last week, crews used about 4,800 tons of a salt-sand mixture, which cost almost $119,000. A full accounting, including overtime, will come later.

Crews will conserve the remaining salt-sand mix until the end of the storm, when plowing is no longer needed, and when the treatment will be most effective, he said.

He urged drivers to monitor conditions and adjust their travel.

Snow melting over the weekend on emergency routes means crews won’t have to pile excess snow in the middle of streets, the city said in a news release.

The city continued to remind homeowners and businesses that they are responsible for clearing sidewalks, parking lots and driveways.

Police Lt. Doug Nolte said the emergency accident reporting system was not yet in effect, as of Monday morning. He reminded motorists to clear snow away from their lights and windshield, to increase visibility, and to stay off roads if possible.

“Finally, just be a good neighbor,” by checking to make sure that neighbors have what they need, Nolte said.

People should notify police if they are concerned about their neighbors’ welfare, he said.

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