Wichita city officials are warning residents to be prepared for what some weather experts say could be a major ice storm this weekend.
The threat of bad weather has already altered Mayor Jeff Longwell’s plan to attend Sunday’s National Football League playoff game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
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“My wife and I were scheduled to drive to Kansas City to enjoy the Chiefs game,” Longwell said during his regular media briefing Thursday morning. “We decided that it wasn’t worth the risk to take a three-hour drive under those conditions.
“We encourage our citizens to evaluate the risk – this could be a very difficult weekend for travelers.”
The National Weather Service has issued an ice and freezing rain storm warning for south-central and central Kansas, which will be in effect from 6 p.m. Friday through noon Sunday. Weather models are predicting anywhere from a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice for the Wichita area.
Alan King, Wichita’s director of public works, said trucks have been out since Monday spreading brine – a mixture of pure salt and water – on city streets.
“We’re preparing for the worst,” King said. “We’d offer the suggestion that people be cautious, especially during the early part of the (storm). It’s also possible that ice could form on branches and bring them down, which could cause power outages. We have power generators for all of the city’s critical facilities in case that happens.”
Troy Houtman, the city’s director of parks and recreation, said his department will be ready to clear branches that may fall onto roadways.
How hard Wichita will be hit by the weather event, however, remains to be seen. AccuWeather meteorologist Phil Warren said it will depend on whether the temperature rises above freezing on Saturday.
Preparing for a winter storm
Make a plan
▪ Build a kit
▪ Follow the county emergency log
▪ Have enough food and water
▪ One gallon of water per person, per day
▪ Have a manual can opener for canned food
Power outage plan
▪ Identify someone/somewhere to stay
▪ Make sure your fireplace is clean
▪ Generators are fueled and prepared
▪ Generators should be operated only outside
▪ Use caution with open flames, such as candles in the house
▪ Make plans for kids, pets or anyone with special needs
▪ Plug in your weather radio, have spare batteries
During the storm
▪ Don’t call 911 for weather or power outage updates
▪ Stay indoors
▪ Walk cautiously on icy sidewalks
▪ Stay warm and dry
▪ If you must travel, do so only during the day
▪ Travel with a partner
▪ Let others know your route
▪ Stay on the main roads
▪ Allow plenty of extra time to arrive at your destination
▪ Stay away from downed power lines
Source: Sedgwick County