Snow, below-freezing temperatures make for some slick roads in Wichita area

A snowplow clears U.S. 81 south of Haysville. (Nov. 16, 2014)
A snowplow clears U.S. 81 south of Haysville. (Nov. 16, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Wichitans woke Sunday to the first measurable snowfall of the winter season.

The National Weather Service recorded 1.8 inches at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, said Kevin Darmofal, NWS meteorologist, but snowfall amounts varied throughout the area from 2 to 3 inches.

Some snowfall amounts in southeastern Kansas are expected to total 4 inches.

Residents throughout Sunday and into Monday were encouraged to use caution while traveling, because wet roads, combined with falling temperatures, are leading to slick, hazardous conditions, particularly on bridges and overpasses.

A Sedgwick County 911 dispatcher said 65 accidents were reported by midafternoon Sunday in the Wichita area because of the weather, but the Emergency Action Response Plan has not been put into effect. None of the accidents was considered to be a serious injury accident, and some of the accidents may have been reported more than once or by different jurisdictions, such as the Kansas Highway Patrol, the dispatcher said.

“People need to take time if they are going somewhere,” said Sgt. Ed Brower, spokesman for the Wichita Police Department. “Take time to warm your vehicle up and make sure the windows are all cleared.”

Brower said that city crews have been out clearing the main arterial streets, but as temperatures dropped Sunday night, he warned driving conditions could worsen.

“We are encouraging people to make sure they take plenty of time to drive slow and be careful,” Brower said.

In Andover, 3-year-old Nolan Rombeck was at first disappointed when he woke on Saturday morning with no visible snow on the ground, said his dad, Terry Rombeck.

Sunday, though, was a different story.

Nolan was excited to put on new snow boots to romp in the snow.

“He wasn’t used to walking in them and faceplants himself in the snow,” Terry Romback said. “I thought he was going to cry, but he looked up and was giggling, face covered in snow. He yelled, ‘I’m a yeti!’ ”

The snow was not wet enough for throwing snowballs or making snowmen.

But the cold did cause some ranchers to layer up and put on long underwear as they did chores.

However, the livestock hardly were affected by the season’s blast of winter, said rancher Jim Gray of Geneseo.

“As long as they are out of the wind and you have a place for them that is protected, they’ll be fine,” Gray said.

Temperatures Sunday night were expected to plummet to 10 degrees, with wind chills at zero through Monday morning. The highs on Monday will climb into the upper 20s and into the upper 30s by Tuesday. Temperatures by the weekend will be into the upper 50s.

“We will get warmer once we get past this deep freeze,” Darmofal said.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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