Weather

Ice storm warning issued for Wichita area

Weather officials on Thursday shifted the bull’s-eye for the looming winter storm this weekend farther from Wichita but warned residents to still brace for freezing rain and ice.

“Confidence is still high that we’re going to get freezing rain” and notable ice accumulation, said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

Overland Park traffic camera videos show the dangers of slick, icy streets. The clips from the city's network of traffic cameras show what can happen when drivers are not careful in winter weather.

The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for 6 p.m. Friday until noon Sunday for 10 counties in south-central Kansas, including the Wichita metropolitan area.

Officials urged residents to prepare for the possibility of extended power outages.

AccuWeather is projecting that brief periods of freezing rain could move through Friday afternoon and early evening, with the weather service expecting the heavier wintry precipitation will occur late Friday night.

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The freezing rain will persist off and on into Saturday night, forecasters say. Wichita could see 1/4 to 1/2 inch of ice accumulation by the time the precipitation ends, forecasters say. Isolated spots could see more than half an inch of ice accumulation.

Up to an inch of ice accumulation is projected for a large portion of central and western Kansas, stretching from Ulysses and Garden City east to Hutchinson, Newton, Salina and points north and east of there.

“We may actually see conditions actually improve” a bit later on Saturday in the Wichita area, Lawson said.

But those projections are based on the expectation that the temperature will be at 28 to 30 degrees in the Wichita area, forecasters say. If that happens, streets may not be as treacherous as they would be if readings were in the mid-20s.

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Yet ice will still glaze elevated routes as well as trees, branches, power lines, fences and anything else off the surface.

“Right now, we’re going for a high of right around 31,” Lawson said. “At 32, you can still do stuff. Your roads aren’t going to be terrible.”

But city officials on Thursday were still preparing for the worst – and authorities were urging residents to do the same.

“People should stay off the roads if at all possible” this weekend, Dicie Nicklaus, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross in south-central and southeast Kansas, said in a statement.

This video shows how the folks at Ricochet Home Consignment in Boise, Idaho, took care of the snow that had piled up in their parking lot. (Courtesy of Riley Elguezabal)

Wichita's first measurable snow of the season arrived Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016, with biting north winds that pushed wind chills to -10 by mid-afternoon.

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

▪ Report power outages at www.westarenergy.com or 800-544-4857

▪ 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

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