Ice could challenge travelers over Thanksgiving weekend

Courtesy of National Weather Service

Kansans shouldn’t have any trouble getting where they’re going for Thanksgiving dinner, forecasters say.

Returning home later in the weekend may be a dicier proposition, however.

A soggy holiday will make way for a glazed Friday and early Saturday across much of the state, weather officials say. Shoppers eager to take advantage of Black Friday deals are likely to have to deal with freezing rain and drizzle.

“It’ll be pretty nasty out there” early Friday morning, said Sarah Glenn, lead storm warning meteorologist in AccuWeather’s Wichita office.

Current forecasts project a tenth to a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation by late Friday afternoon in south-central Kansas. While .10 of an inch would have little impact, Glenn said, .25 of an inch could become a problem for power lines and tree branches.

Soil temperatures are still fairly warm, “so maybe the roads won’t have as many problems as they might later in the winter,” said Vanessa Pearce, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

But many trees still have leaves, Glenn said, and those leaves could collect ice and further stress trees.

Anyone traveling Wednesday or early on Thanksgiving Day should be fine, Pearce said.

“The question will be how long will they be gone and when do they expect to be back?” she said. “Later time frames could be a little dicey” for travel.

Temperatures will reach the 60s in the Wichita area on Wednesday and then begin an accelerating decline, forecasters say. Highs will be in the mid-50s on a rainy Thanksgiving and in the low 30s on Friday.

The steady rain on Thursday could create headaches for road crews hoping to pre-treat streets and highways ahead of the approaching ice, Glenn said.

“There could be a window for them to get the roads treated” before the ice moves in, “but it’s definitely going to be a tough decision for them to make,” she said.

Pearce and Glenn suggested holiday travelers would be wise to postpone their return journeys until Saturday if possible. Temperatures should recover to the upper 30s by Saturday afternoon, meaning any precipitation will fall as rain.

Sunday will be a bit warmer still, with highs in the low 40s.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger