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Kansas City metro starts preparations as winter storm looms

Posted at 3:00 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-10 11:49:24-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City-area authorities on Thursday began preparations for the impending winter storm expected to hit the area Friday night into Saturday.

Around 3:30 Friday morning, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for the metro from 6 p.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Saturday.

41 Action News Chief meteorologist Gary Lezak said conditions will start to deteriorate Friday night, with snow moving in overnight and into Saturday morning. On Thursday, he said the storm could bring 3 to 6 inches of snow by Saturday night, although those totals could shift as the storm track continues to form.

A few schools north of St. Joseph planned early dismissals for the impending storm. You can see a full list of closings and delays here.

The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expects hazardous road conditions for rush hour on Friday and throughout Saturday.

"Based on when the storm hits, there could be potential for service suspensions," RideKC said in a release. "This could impact the availability of afternoon commuter express trips, as well as all other service. Paratransit service will likely be affected and customers may want to consider rescheduling non-essential trips."

If temperatures reach 10 degrees or lower, there will be a RideKC warming bus in operation at 10th and Main streets. The latest information will be available on the RideKC website or on social media via the RideKC account on Twitter or RideKC's Facebook page.

You also can track bus routes online or via the RideKC mobile app.

The city of Kansas City, Missouri, said Thursday night crews will prepare for snow-removal operations overnight and begin pre-treating roads as soon as the rain subsides Friday afternoon or evening. As snow accumulates, crews will transition to plowing.

KCMO has tips for wintry weather, a list of cold-weather resources and a real-time map of snow plows on the city website.

The Missouri Department of Transportation started adding blades and treatment spreaders to trucks on Thursday and plan to continue the process Friday morning.

“We’re monitoring the situation obviously and will act appropriately ...,” MoDOT Senior Communications Specialist Markl Johnson said. “We are treating this very seriously. Rain, freezing, snow — that’s a trifecta that’s going to be difficult.”

He hopes drivers will stay off the roads, because conditions potentially will be dangerous Pre-treatment isn’t possible because of the rain in the forecast, which would wash any materials on the road away.

“As it begins to transition into freezing rain, we’ll go full bore and we’ll start putting down rock salt,” Johnson said. “We’ll start with our bridges and overpasses then we’ll hit our mainline roads.”

Johnson said the recent warmth, especially a record high on Thursday, will help crews keep streets safe. MoDOT will have full crews on duty by 7 p.m. “and they’ll work until the roads are clear,” he said.

Johnson also suggested preparing an emergency kit with water, snacks, warm clothes, winter gloves and hats.

Michael Quizon, public affairs manager for the Kansas Department of Transportation in the metro, said Thursday that crews were gearing up to begin snow removal. For the first time, some KDOT plows will be equipped with new gear that makes the vehicles more visible to drivers on the road.

On those trucks, the wing plow — which sits on the right side of the truck — will be now equipped with a strobe light and a taller, illuminated wing plow marker. The new marker will also flash and have a flag on it for extra visibility.

"We're hoping this (new gear) will increase the visibility of the wing plow and give folks that extra visual cue not to pass," Quizon said.

Quizon said during the last snow event on Dec. 15, three KDOT plows were hit, all on the wing plows.

"It's really dangerous and frustrating for our drivers, but it's also a safety issue," Quizon said. "We don't want anyone being hurt ... Just know the safest place for you to be is actually behind the snow plow, and not try to pass."

Kansas Highway Patrol troopers were also taking precautions in advance of the fast-approaching storm. Trooper Candice Breshears said KHP will begin towing abandoned vehicles from the shoulders of interstates and highways at 2 p.m. Friday.

Abandoned vehicles make it more difficult for KDOT crews to clear snow from the road, according to KHP.

Breshears said KHP troopers and motorist assist technicians would continue to move the vehicles until KDOT's snow removal is complete.

Anyone whose car is towed is advised to call *47 to find out where their vehicle was taken.

KHP said the vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense.

Olathe plans to begin rock-salt treatments approximately "two hours before the rain transitions to sleet and ice on Friday afternoon," according to the city's website. Day and night crews will work rotating 12-hour shifts to plow and treat streets.

Check back for updates.