Southwest jet stuck in Kansas City snowstorm

Print
Email
|

by ROXANA HEGEMAN

Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 11:31 PM

A Southwest Airlines jet became stuck in a drift at Kansas City International Airport on Tuesday as a winter storm brought heavy snow to the state.

No one was hurt. Passengers were taken to the terminal by bus before the jet could be towed to a gate.

Schools throughout Kansas canceled classes and state government ground to a halt as residents faced a dangerous combination of frigid temperatures and unrelenting wind in the coming days.

The Kansas Highway Patrol was investigating the role weather played in a two-car crash in the state's southeast corner that left two people dead, patrol Maj. John Eichkorn said. The crash occurred Tuesday afternoon on U.S. 69, just south of Pittsburg, where roads were partly packed with snow and ice, but Eichkorn said no precipitation was falling at the time. The patrol did not immediately identify the victims.

By Tuesday afternoon the heaviest snow had moved into northeast Kansas, where it was expected to persist into the evening and overnight hours. As much as a foot of snow was forecast in Topeka, where lawmakers postponed legislative work and state departments urged workers to stay home.

Some of the higher snowfall amounts were reported across portions of south-central and central Kansas. Hutchinson reported 9 inches, as did much of McPherson County. Mount Hope had 10 inches.

Elsewhere in the state, snow accumulations were far more modest. Southeast Kansas had got just 1 to 3 inches of snow. Out in western Kansas, accumulations generally ranged from 3 to 6 inches.

"Once this snow moves out this evening and tonight, the biggest thing is the much colder air filtering south with strong winds, sending wind chills well below zero," said Andy Kleinsasser, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Wichita.

The northern half of the state is forecast to have wind chill temperatures of 15 to 25 below zero throughout Wednesday, with actual daytime temperature of 5 to 10 degrees. It is not forecast to warm up above freezing until Tuesday of next week.

Brownback said he also is concerned that winds will create snow drifts and conditions dangerous for driving.

"We could be in a more treacherous situation," he said following a briefing for reporters at the state's emergency operations center in Topeka.

The Kansas Highway Patrol, which was working numerous vehicle slide-offs, discouraged motorists from traveling due to slick roads and whiteout conditions. Eichkorn said in one incident Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 635 in the Kansas City area, a motorist struck a Highway Patrol car, and it had to be towed. Eichkorn said the trooper was outside the car, assisting another motorist and no one was injured.

Wichita officials warned residents even before the storm hit that they planned to put road crews on 12-hour shifts, but the city had only enough salt and sand to treat emergency routes once.

"They are not putting anything; there is nothing on the streets. They are not even removing snow," said Wichita resident Emira Palacios. "None of those streets had salt."

Despite the dangerous roads, Palacios said she had to go to her tax preparer to do her taxes Tuesday because would be leaving later this week for eastern Europe for an extended period.

So she drove slowly, but complained it was tough to get out of a parking space or to make a turn, and she couldn't even see the edge of the sidewalks.

"It is a little scary," she said of the roads in Wichita. "It is hard to see sometimes."

Wichita Mid-Continent Airport had numerous flight cancellations, said airport spokeswoman Valerie Wise.

In northeast Kansas, Atchison rancher Ron Estes fed his cattle earlier than usual Tuesday before the heavy snows came. By early afternoon there was already 4 to 5 inches on the ground at his place and it was still snowing. Once the snow stops, he plans to put down dry straw for his livestock to lie down in.

"The cold weather will bother us more than anything," Estes said.

In Topeka, Brownback hopped aboard a Kansas Department of Transportation plowing truck to observe snow-removal work on Interstate 70. The governor was accompanying senior equipment operator Allen Ansberry on a 17-mile stretch of I-70 from mid-Topeka to its exit for the small town of Maple Hill.

Brownback later issued a disaster declaration for the state so that it can move personnel and equipment more easily. And he called out 36 Kansas National Guard troops, nine four-member teams that will help transport emergency and medical personnel who can't navigate snow-packed roads and rescue stranded motorists.

Kleinsasser, the meteorologist, said: "We are looking at a prolonged period of cold and we are going to have a few more shots at some light snow as we get into Wednesday night and Thursday."

He added: "We are going to have a little more snow as well on Friday night."

___

Associated Press Writer John Milburn contributed to this story from Lawrence. Associated Press Writer John Hanna reported from Topeka.

 

Print
Email
|