Winter storm closes schools, causes problems for drivers

Updated: Feb 8

Heavy snow across Linn County overnight left several inches of the white stuff on the ground with an additional 3 to 5 inches of snow expected later today and tonight. The area remains under a Winter Storm Warning by the National Weather Service (NWS) until Thursday evening.


All three school districts announced yesterday that classes were cancelled today, Feb. 2.


The NWS is also predicting highs for today and tomorrow in the lower 20s, while lows for the next two nights will be in the single digits.


Linn County Pubic Works Administrator Shaun West said earlier today that, because there was little ice associated with the storm, county road crews would be working to clear according to a preset plan.

That plan includes clearing paved roads and roads that connect to main arteries first. Once those high-usage roads were clear, crews would start working on the secondary roads, he said.


Also once the main roads are cleared, crews can start addressing trouble spots like bridges and intersections where ice, particularly black ice, has become a problem, West said. Had there been more freezing rain, addressing those areas would have been more of a priority.


West said that V-plows have been mounted on some trucks to work the backroads and graders are ready to clear as well.


He said he expected crews to be working over the next two days to clear the snow and hoped to have the work done by Thursday evening. However, he also said that with additional snow and breezy conditions drifting could be a problem.


Winds out of the north northeast are expected to bring wind gusts up as high as 28 mph, which could cause drifting, particularly on roads that run east to west.

In that case, county crews would continue to return to those areas to get those roads clear.



This tractor-trailer rig got sideways on U.S. Highway 69 this morning because of icy roads. The Linn County Sheriff's deputies were kept busy handling slide-offs on main roads. (Screen captures, Linn County Sheriff's Office)


Kansas Department of Transportation road crews will be working to clear state and federal highways.

Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend urged drivers to slow down and be more attentive to road conditions. "People should stay home if they can," he said.


If drivers must get out on the highways, they should take special care to give themselves plenty of space between vehicles, he said.


He pointed out that, unlike previous relatively light snows over the past couple of years, a heavy snow like the one expected will be a game-changer. It will make it more challenging to get places for motorists, but it will also slow down responses on 911 calls from all emergency responders.


It also suggested that if you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained by calling 5-1-1 or you can go to the Kansas Department of Transportation website, kandrive.org.

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