NEW WINTER STORM DESCENDS ON STATE; STATE EOC ACTIVATED
Even as Kansans continue to dig out from the winter storm that covered the state Feb. 21-22, another storm is poised to dump even more snow across Kansas. Eight to 13 inches are forecast for southwest Kansas with the possibility for as much as 10 to 12 inches falling in the Topeka area beginning mid-to-late Monday afternoon and into the evening. South Central Kansas may be hit the hardest, with forecasts indicating 16 to 24 inches through Monday.
The storm will enter the state sometime Sunday evening and may linger into Tuesday. The main concern for high wind is in the southwest part of the state with 25 to 40 mph winds and gusts of more than 55 mph. These winds will cause whiteout conditions and drifting snow, making travel dangerous. There will also be minor accumulations of freezing rain late Sunday into Monday morning.
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management activated the State Emergency Operations Center at noon Sunday and will continue 24-hour staffing until further notice. KDEM staff will be monitoring the weather and will keep in contact with county emergency managers as the storm moves into the state.
Gov. Sam Brownback held a conference call for the media Sunday night to update the public on the weather forecasts and the planned state response. He amended the state of emergency disaster declaration he signed last week to also include this new storm.
“This storm has the potential to be more dangerous than last week’s storm,” noted Brownback. “Driving will be very dangerous, with whiteout conditions. So, we ask you to stay off the road unless it’s absolutely critical. If you have to be out, be prepared with a charged cell phone, an emergency kit with food, water, blankets, flares and a shovel.”
Maj. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, echoed the governor’s advice and urged Kansans to be prepared.
“Make sure your home emergency kit is stocked with food, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, medicines and everything you’ll need to survive on your own for a minimum of three days, if necessary,” said Tafanelli. “Review you home emergency plan and be ready to weather the storm safely.”
Information on emergency preparedness for home and travel may be found at www.ksready.gov.
Winter Driving Tips
If you must travel in the upcoming winter storm, the Kansas Highway Patrol offers to following tips to prepare your vehicle. Check the fluids, ensuring that the radiator is winterized, the gas tank is over half-full, and there is plenty of windshield washing fluid. Check belts, hoses, and brake systems for excessive wear. Have the exhaust system checked; small leaks can allow carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment. Check tire treads for adequate traction, and replace windshield wiper blades if they are ineffective.
Page 2 of 3 - Keep an emergency kit that includes at least the following:
· An ice scraper and shovel
· Jumper cables
· Sand or kitty litter for traction
· Extra blankets or clothing
· Non-perishable food
· A first aid kit
· Matches and candles or flares
· Tow rope or chain
On the road remember the following:
· Allow extra time for delays and slower traffic speeds.
· Buckle up and properly secure children in safety seats.
· Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Ice and snow significantly increase your stopping distance.
· Accelerate and brake gently. A light foot on the gas is less likely to make wheels spin on ice and snow. Braking is best accomplished by pumping the pedal. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, it is very important that you understand how to use it. Read the owner's manual or check with a dealership for more information, and practice using it correctly.
· Make turns slowly and gradually, especially in heavily traveled areas (e.g. intersections that may be icy from snow that melted and refroze).
· Visibility is very important. You must be able to see out, and other drivers must be able to see your vehicle. Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights. Use headlights as necessary.
· If your car loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go. Anticipate a second skid in the opposite direction as the car straightens out.
If you are stranded in a winter storm, do not panic. Stay in the vehicle, keep fresh air circulating through a downwind window, run the motor sparingly, turn on the dome light, and stimulate circulation and stay awake by moving arms and legs. If you leave the car, work slowly in the snow to avoid over-exertion and the risk of a heart attack. If you have a cellular phone, call a Kansas Highway Patrol dispatcher by dialing *HP (47), or *KTA (582) while on the Kansas Turnpike.
Page 3 of 3 - Additional information on winter driving tips is available on the Kansas Highway Patrol website at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/press/news_info/winter_drive.html
Listen to local media for weather updates and check the Kansas Department of Transportation website (http://511.ksdot.org) for road conditions and travel advisories.