LIVE BLOG: Wichita welcomes winter with record-low wind chill; historic snow squall warning
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Note: 12 News is tracking the latest developments on the extreme cold and likely precipitation forecast for Wednesday evening into Thursday.
Thursday afternoon The snow has come and gone but one thing still remains, the cold. Storm Team 12 says dangerous temperatures will stick around for a little while longer. Emergency officials emphasize staying inside if you can with a high of about 0-degrees.
A weather alert has been extended into Friday when wind chills will make it feel like it’s -20 degrees outside. The cold will make it possible for the snow to remain on the ground leading to a likely white Christmas. Milder weather is expected as we close out the month and welcome the new year.
11:20 a.m. Thursday I-70 is now back open in central Kansas. It was closed earlier due to multiple accidents between Russell and Wilson. Trooper Tod Hileman with the Kansas Highway Patrol said roads and visibility continue to be an issue, so slow down and be careful.
For the latest information on road closures and conditions, visit www.kandrive.org, or call 511 in Kansas or 866-511-5368 outside Kansas.
9:30 a.m. Thursday: The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed eastbound I-70 from exit 184 at Russell to exit 206 at Wilson because of multiple crashes blocking the roadway. Motorists are advised delay travel if possible.
8:55 a.m. Thursday: The snow squall warning for all of south central Kansas has been extended until 10 a.m. Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Adrian Campa describes a snow squall:
8:40 a.m. Thursday: The National Weather Service says Thursday morning’s -32 wind chill is the coldest measurement in Wichita since 2000. In 2021, Wichita reached a minus-31-degree wind chill during an arctic outbreak.
8:15 a.m. Thursday: The Reno County Sheriff’s Office released pictures showing the dangerous conditions drivers are facing Thursday morning.
7:15 a.m. Thursday: A snow squall warning has been issued for all of south central Kansas through 8 a.m. With very heavy snow, low visibility and dangerous travel conditions, driving is discouraged. UPDATE 8:30 a.m. The National Weather Service in Wichita says the snow squall warning was the first ever for the city.
BREAKING: Snow Squall Warning has been issued for ALL of south central Kansas.— Jake Dunne (@KWCHJake) December 22, 2022
Very Heavy Snow, LOW VIS, and DANGEROUS travel conditions expected through 8AM
6:30 a.m. Thursday: Kansas State Trooper Ben Gardner joined 12 News This Morning to discuss the rapidly deteriorating road conditions in and around Wichita.
6 a.m. Thursday: Evergy says about 8,600 customers are without power across the state and into Missouri. Most of the outages are in Wichita, where there are about 40 outages and close to 8,000 customers affected.
Late Wednesday night: More precipitation began to fall late Wednesday night, a drizzle that farther raises concerns about deteriorating road conditions ahead of Thursday morning. About 90 miles north of Wichita, the Salina Police Department enacted the Emergency Accident Reporting Plan. EARP also remains in effect for the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County.
Storm Team 12 Meteorologist Peyton Sanders says activity will continue spreading south into the night after snow began to develop over northern Kansas. Snow will continue Thursday morning over southern Kansas before ending by midday.
While schools across Kansas are out for winter break, there are closures to city buildings, church offices, centers, etc... across the state due to the winter storm. You can see those closures here: https://www.kwch.com/weather/closings/.
Wednesday 9 p.m. The roads around Wichita are calm for now, although drivers need to give themselves extra time. By about 8:30 p.m., a map from KanDrive showed a drop in the number of crashes since the afternoon, but conditions overall aren’t vastly improved from earlier and they’re expected to get far worse through the overnight hours into Thursday.
Here’s a look at one of the crashes that happened this afternoon on Woodlawn. Bystanders rushed to help after a truck flipped on the side. @KWCH12 #icttraffic pic.twitter.com/E2Hpbn2OCQ— Shawn Loging (@KWCHShawn) December 21, 2022
Numerous crashes were reported throughout the day on Kellogg, making a slow go for many drivers when the freezing drizzle moved in. Road crews also spent Wednesday trying to stay ahead of the precipitation as we’re getting ready to move into the more intense part of this winter storm.
Here's a look at just some of the crashes being worked across Wichita RIGHT NOW. Remember, the Emergency Accident Report Plan (EARP) is in effect for the city. If you can, STAY HOME! https://t.co/FRWh349dba#kwch12 #kwchtraffic #storm12— KWCH 12 News (@KWCH12) December 21, 2022
Photos courtesy: https://t.co/oO76tZHRZi pic.twitter.com/txummDMsSF
Throughout the day, City of Wichita and Kansas Department of Transportation crews crisscrossed areas laying down a salt and brine solution to get ahead of snow in the forecast for Thursday. Total snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is expected for eastern and far northern Kansas. Less than 1 inch is expected across southwest Kansas. The Wichita area is on the edge of a band that could get up to 3 inches.
Dangerous cold is expected Wednesday night and Thursday with gusty winds leading to wind chills from 15 to 30 degrees below zero throughout Thursday.
Nationwide, more than 87 million people are facing wind chill alerts. Those alerts stretch across 37 states, from the U.S.-Mexico border to the U.S.-Canada border. As of Thursday afternoon, more than 750 flights had been canceled.
Wednesday 5:55 p.m. Things have quieted down in Wichita after a busy afternoon of crashes and a call for drivers to stay off the highways. Emergency responders said freezing fog and drizzle created “ice rink”-like conditions on Kellogg, K-96, I-135 and I-235, all of which are made up of bridges and elevated roadways.
The calm down comes before blizzard-like conditions are expected to arrive early Thursday morning. Storm Team 12 says winds of up to 40 mph could create visibility problems from blowing snow. The front is also anticipated to bring dangerously low temperatures with subzero windchills.
Throughout the day, people were advised to stay home if they didn’t have to get out. The same message is expected to continue on Thursday as the threat moves from icy roads to the possibility of frostbite and hypothermia.
Wednesday 3:50 p.m. The City of Wichita said Wednesday it had crews out treating the roads as freezing fog and drizzle settled in but is not responsible for the highways, including Kellogg, K-96, I-135 and I-235. Those areas are maintained by the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The city issued the message following numerous crashes on the highways due to the slick road conditions. Drivers were asked to slow down or stay at home, they were also told to stay off the highway.
The Wichita Police Department implemented the Emergency Accident Report Plan (EARP) allowing those involved accidents where no injuries, drugs or alcohol are involved, and both vehicles are drivable, to exchange insurance information and report the accident at a later time using a form found at QuikTrips, local police substations or here: https://www.wichita.gov/WPD/Pages/MVA.aspx
EARP is also in effect for Sedgwick County, Derby, Bel Aire and Goddard.
Law enforcement agencies throughout central Kansas continue to work several traffic accidents due to the inclement weather conditions.
The westbound on-ramp to U.S. 50 was closed Wednesday afternoon in Harvey County due to a semi rollover at U.S. Highway 50 and South Anderson Road.
The accident happened around 2:30 p.m. when the semi lost control and went over the barrier wall. It was hauling plastic materials. Two people in the semi were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Wednesday 2:05 p.m. Wichita drivers have been asked to avoid all highways (Kellogg, K-96, I-135 and I-235). Crews are on the scene of several accidents at this time. At least one person has suffered critical injuries in a crash at 245th and Oliver.
Use extra caution if traveling today, and monitor changing road conditions KanDrive: http://kandrive.org.
Wednesday 12:55 p.m. - The Emergency Accident Report Plan (EARP) is now in effect for the city of Wichita due to the slick road conditions and multiple crashes on Kellogg, I-135, I-235, and K-96.
If you’re in a wreck and there are no injuries involved, you can drive your vehicle, and no drugs or alcohol are involved you do not have to call 9-1-1 to report the wreck. Instead, swap phone numbers and insurance information then fill out a report. You can get the paperwork for that report at Wichita QuikTrips, Wichita police substations or here: https://www.wichita.gov/WPD/Pages/MVA.aspx
Wednesday 12:45 p.m. - The National Weather Service has issued a freezing fog advisory for several counties in south and central Kansas.
There have been reports of reduced visibility and slick roads. Trooper Tod Hileman with the Kansas Highway Patrol said troopers are responding to slide-offs along I-70 between Collyer and Quinter due to freezing fog sticking to the roads.
The NWS advises that if you drive into an area with fog and below-freezing temperatures, slow down and stay off cruise control. Use extra caution if traveling today, and monitor changing road conditions KanDrive: http://kandrive.org. Stay ahead of the weather with Always On Storm Team 12.
Wednesday 11:30 a.m. The Phillips County Sheriff’s Office said it has worked five accidents since 11:00 a.m. Three of the accidents have been rollovers. So far, there have been no injuries. As road conditions continue to deteriorate with the thickening of freezing fog and drizzle, drivers are advised to be cautious, slow down or just stay home.
Wednesday 8:30 a.m. - McConnell Air Force Base says minimum essential personnel will be on base Thursday. McConnell has canceled local flying and has moved tasked missions to other locations so support, maintenance and aviators won’t need to generate aircraft in the upcoming weather.
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