Winter weather leads to multiple slide-offs, crashes in central, western Kansas
(KWCH) - Update Monday afternoon, Jan. 25, 2021: The roads are improving as winter weather lets up and plow crews treat the main highways in central and western Kansas. However, driving remains hazardous in several areas where slick spots remain. In northwest Kansas, the biggest issue has been snow-packed roads. In the Salina area, in central Kansas, ice was sending vehicles into ditches following rain and below-freezing temperatures.
Eyewitness News spoke with the Kansas Highway Patrol which advised that the best thing people in areas impacted by the most recent bout of winter weather could do is stay home. For anyone who needs to be out, the KHP advised taking it slow, increasing the following distance between vehicles, and being extra aware of conditions.
“Certainly, going farther west, it is getting worse, KHP Trooper Ben Gardner said.
While the situation in northwest Kansas is difficult for drivers, Gardner said an advantage with the snow is that people can clearly see it and “it’s easy to make adjustments because it’s there in their face.”
In Saline County, he said the roads just look wet and many drivers aren’t recognizing the dangers with that precipitation being frozen “until they’re in it.”
“It’s very deceiving because people are traveling from probably just a west road to all of a sudden, rapidly changing to an icy road,” Gardner said. “They’re not recognizing it.”
Zaquim Houston, traveling to Colorado from Missouri, was among the drivers who ended up in the ditch on Monday west of Salina.
“It was icy outside and we ended up spinning off the road and ended up going off the road. Had to push it back on,” Houston said.
He said he expected more challenges on the road as he continued the journey west on Interstate 70.
In Russell, about 70 miles west of Salina, some preferred to play it safe by staying home and off of the roads. The town received a couple of inches of snow, precipitation residents welcomed.
“We hadn’t seen anything like this for a good year, so we were due. We were certainly due,” Russell resident Mike McGreevy said.
Some Kansans woke up to half a foot of snow on Monday while others saw rain, sleet and some ice.
On Twitter, Trooper Ben Gardner with the Kansas Highway Patrol said there were multiple calls of slide-offs and possible crashes west of Salina that had occurred in a matter of minutes. He warned that as temperatures dropped and ice increased, there would likely be more accidents as the storm moved east.
“So, please if you can, delay your travel, wear your seatbelt, increase your following distance and if you can, stay home. That’s the best thing. It’s warm and safe there,” Trooper Ben said in a video he then posted on Facebook. He also said anyone involved in a crash can call *47 and the Kansas Highway Patrol will respond.
In the Hays area, KHP Trooper Tod Hileman said crews were busy responding to slideoffs and people getting stuck in the snow. Storm Team 12 forecasted 6-12″ of snow for the area. School districts called off classes and several community centers closed in anticipation of the wintry weather.
For those still out traveling Hileman encouraged drivers to be cautious on the slick and snowpacked roads and allow the Kansas Department of Transporation (KDOT) to clear I-70 before they hit the road.
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