Winter storm prompts Brownback to declare state of emergency for eastern half of Kansas

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 the region this morning.

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 Kansas 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.

Dispatchers reported light traffic and few accidents for the morning commute in the Wichita area, but officials were still urging motorists to avoid travel if at all possible. Roads throughout the eastern part of the state were snow-packed and icy, and visibility was near zero in southeast Kansas.

More than 40 arrivals and departures have been canceled so far today at Wichita's Mid-Continent Airport. Travelers should check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

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