A winter storm closing in on Kansas appears poised to linger much longer than initially anticipated.
The National Weather Service has extended the ice storm warning that began at 6 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Monday for some parts of the state, though it will end at noon on Sunday for the Wichita area.
Some parts of the state could see an inch or more of ice accumulation by Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Metzger said. The heaviest freezing rain in the Wichita area is expected from Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning.
“We’re probably not going to kick over to rain until about 1 p.m. on Sunday” in Wichita, Metzger said.
Patchy freezing rain began during the evening commute Friday in Wichita. Elevated routes quickly became slick, prompting the activation of the Emergency Accident Reporting Plan.
A chain-reaction accident on westbound Kellogg over the Central Business District just after 6 p.m. involved perhaps 20 vehicles, authorities said. Three minor injuries were reported.
AccuWeather storm warning meteorologist Billy Clark said light freezing rain will continue off and on until it becomes steady by mid-afternoon Saturday.
The weather service is projecting about one-quarter of an inch of ice accumulation in Wichita, with higher amounts just to the north and west. Locations northwest of the Kansas Turnpike could see three-fourths of an inch of ice accumulation.
Power outages are possible, Metzger said, particularly if trees next to power lines are ill or aging — and thus more vulnerable to damage from ice.
“If we can get through Saturday, we should be OK,” Metzger said.
Ice will accumulate on elevated routes, signs, tree branches and anything else above the surface, he said. How streets fare depends on how rapidly the freezing rain falls.
Westar Energy crews are ready to respond to outages, utility spokeswoman Gina Penzig said, and neighboring utilities are on alert to converge on areas of Kansas stricken with outages.
Westar officials are encouraging residents to download the MyWestar app, which provides access to outage reporting. They can enroll for text updates on outages that affect them.
Once they download the app, they can text REG to 97827. To report an outage, text OUT to 97827.
Outages can also be reported online at WestarEnergy.com or by calling 800-544-4857.
Officials elsewhere in Kansas are bracing for heavy ice accumulation.
“We’re hoping for the best,” Barton County Emergency Management director Amy Miller said in Great Bend, where forecasters are calling for plenty of ice.
Ford County Emergency Management director Mike Dunmars said local forecasts say three to four inches of rain will fall in the Dodge City area, with perhaps two inches of ice accumulation.
“It’s going to be bad,” he said.
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