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Snowstorm knocks out power, closes roads in W. Kansas

Published: May. 1, 2017 at 4:00 PM CDT
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More than a foot of snow fell in several communities in western Kansas over the weekend, knocking out power and closing roads and major highways Sunday.

(UPDATE 10 p.m. Sunday)

As people in several western Kansas communities wait for power to be restored, roads to clear and snow to melt, the Kansas National Guard has assisted in opening more shelters.

The Kansas National Guard armories in Colby, 470 S Range Road, and Norton, 1200 N State St. have been opened as warming centers. In addition, the following shelters have been opened:

· Atwood, Rawlins County

· Bird City – Emergency Building, Cheyenne County

· Dighton - Lane County, Methodist Church, 225 Lane St.

· Hoxie - Methodist Church, 930 12th Street

· Hoxie - Christian Church, 1025 Queen Ave.

· Selden - Selden Community Center, 108 N. Kansas

· Syracuse, Hamilton County (two locations)

· WaKeeney - Trego County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building, 13th & Russell Ave.

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(UPDATE 9:30 p.m. Sunday)

Light snow continues to fall in western Kansas. it has moved south and a little east, but the heavy snow is not expected to make its way to central Kansas. Altogether, the snow is expected to stop early Monday morning.

A rain/snow mix in the Dodge city area is expected over the next few hours. A rain/snow mix could also be possible for the Great Bend area, but the heavy snow western Kansas saw earlier Sunday is not expected.

As we head into tomorrow afternoon, that snow will start to melt with warmer temperatures and sunshine.

The next best chance for moisture is rain expected for the southern half of the state Tuesday.

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(UPDATE 9:10 p.m. Sunday)

Snow in western Kansas slowly moves south and a little east with the heaviest of the snowfall complete.

Garden City reports most of the citywide power outages have been restored, but there are still certain areas in the dark. It was non-stop snow through the day in Garden City that made it difficult for crews to restore power.

In Hays where many motorists and truck drivers are stranded, Brittni Thomason reports hotels have filled up fast.

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(UPDATE 8:15 p.m. Sunday)

Similar to scenes farther east in Russell and Salina, parking lots are full in Hays with semi drivers unable to continue their journeys west on I-70.

Among those impacted by the interstate's closure is a sculpture artist stranded in Russell. The man was trying to get his sculpture art back to Loveland, Colo. Sunday when he had to stop. The drivers trying to head west are expected to be able to continue their journeys on Monday after spending the night in Kansas.

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(UPDATE 7:45 p.m. Sunday)

As of 6 p.m. Sunday, Midwest Energy, which serves about 92,000 customers in central and western Kansas, reported about 8,600 customers are without power, mostly north and west of WaKeeney.

The company says restoration likely will not happen before tomorrow at the earliest.

"There is widespread damage, and we'll have all Midwest crews, plus six contract crews on it first thing when roads open tomorrow morning,' the company says.

UPDATE Sunday, 6 pm; we have roughly 8,600 customers without power, most all North and West of WaKeeney. If you do not...

Posted by Midwest Energy, Inc. on Sunday, April 30, 2017

Meanwhile, Victory Electric reports areas of Bucklin, Dodge City, Montezuma, Ingalls and Cimarron are without power.

Eyewitness News has not received an update from Wheatland Electric.

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(UPDATE 7:10 p.m. Sunday)

The Kansas National Guard says personnel from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and other state agencies will remain on duty in the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka overnight to coordinate response efforts to the severe winter weather affecting W. Kansas and heavy rains and flooding in southeast Kansas.

"All Kansans are urged to cancel or delay their travel plans to these areas until weather conditions improve," a message from the National Guard says.

The Kansas National Guard says it will have 14 Stranded Motorist Assistance Recovery Teams patrolling roads in W. Kansas. It says two teams each have been sent to operate out of Colby, Dighton, Dodge City, Lakin, Liberal, Norton and Tribune.

The Kansas National Guard armories in Colby and Norton are open as warming shelters, in addition to the shelter at Horace Good Middle School in Garden City, two churches in Hoxie and one church in Sedan.The guard says a warming shelter is also open in the Emergency Operations Center in Colby.

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(UPDATE 6:50 p.m. Sunday)

Meteorologist Sarah Fletcher says the heavy snow in western Kansas and the rain over the rest of the state will gradually clear Sunday night, leaving plenty of sunshine for the start of the work week.

WATCH LIVE: Sarah Fletcher gives us the latest on what to expect through the night with wintry weather impacting folks in W. Kansas.

Posted by KWCH 12 Eyewitness News on Sunday, April 30, 2017

Light snow is expected to continue to fall through Sunday night before it clears Monday morning. The latest snowfall totals show 17 inches for Colby, about 16 inches for Tribune, about 15 inches for Scott City and about 14 for Leoti, Herndon, Elkhart and Ulysses. Several areas out west received about one foot of snow.

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(UPDATE 6:20 p.m. Sunday)

In Tribune, Noah Oschsner reports motorists are stranded "all along KS-96" and gas stations are full of people in cars and trucks with traffic stopped in all directions. Greeley County is one of several areas where power has been out since early Sunday morning.

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(UPDATE Sunday 6 p.m. Sunday)

Eyewitness News reporter Brittni Thomason is live in Russell where several truckers and other motorists hoping to head west are stuck with I-70 closed. Parking lots in the area are packed.

People are stuck in Russell, KS because I70 is closed.

Posted by Brittni Thomason on Sunday, April 30, 2017

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(UPDATE Sunday 5:30 p.m. Sunday)

The Kansas Department of Transportation now reports I-70 is closed west of Salina. K-DOT issued the following information on road closures:

The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed westbound I-70 at Salina because of winter weather conditions in western Kansas. I-70 is closed in both directions from the Colorado border to WaKeeney and many other roads across the region also remain closed. For up-to-date information on road closures and road conditions, call 511 in Kansas or 866-511-5368 outside Kansas, or check travel information online at www.kandrive.com.

A lot of people are stuck in Russell because of the closure of I-70 west of Salina, Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Todd Hileman says there are reports of people driving around the gates and onto the eastbound lanes. He urges drivers to obey road closures in order to stay safe.

"That's why it's so dangerous for people to drive out in this type of weather, because sometimes we can't even get to you," Hileman says. "Especially in this type of snow."

Hileman says the snow is wet and thick, making it difficult to get through.

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(UPDATE Sunday 5:20 p.m.)

Snow continues to fall from Garden City to Colby and visibility is reduced. Some parts of W. Kansas have reported more than one foot of snow.

In Garden City, Eyewitness News reporter Brenda Carrasco says power has been out for most of the day and businesses big and small are closed. Many traffic lights in Garden City are also not working. One of the biggest concerns is for those who rely on power for their medical needs.

Employees of the Via Christi Home Medical Office in Garden City have been working all day, delivering back-up oxygen supplies that don't require power. The supplies can carry people through the next 24 hours in case outages are not repaired Sunday night.

The emergency shelter at Horace Good Middle School in Garden City is open for anyone needing a place to stay.

In Colby, the Senior Progress Center reports there will be no delivery for Meals on Wheels Monday.

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(UPDATE Sunday 4:45 p.m.)

As a result of power outages and poor road conditions from the springtime bout of winter, several school districts have canceled school for Monday, including Garden City, Liberal, Moscow, Hugoton, Norton, Oakley, Brewster, Colby, Sublette, Stanton County and Scott City. You can see the complete list of closures

.

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(UPDATE Sunday 4:25 p.m.)

Message from the 25th Judicial District in Garden City:

All offices of the 25th Judicial District, including Finney, Kearny, Hamilton, Greeley, Wichita, and Scott Counties will be closed tomorrow, 5/01, due to inclement weather, poor road conditions and hazardous travel, and sporadic power outages.

Wheatland Electric reports power outages that include about 10,000 meters for homes, wells and other operations. Crews are having trouble getting out to areas with damaged lines and poles because of poor road conditions and continuing moisture.

There are transmission sites that have been damaged due to ice accumulation, snow and downed branches. Crews from Great Bend and outside of Wichita are being called in to help.

The company says it is optimistic they'll be able to restore about half of the outages tonight.

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(UPDATE Sunday 4:15 p.m.)

The Garden City Police Department reports an emergency shelter is now open at Horace Good Middle School at 1412 N. Main in Garden City.

The Kansas Dept. of Transportation now reports I-70 is closed from Russell to Limon, Colo.

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(UPDATE Sunday 4 p.m.)

The winter storm that has dumped several of inches of snow across parts of Western Kansas continues to impact motorists with widespread road closures.

The most notable closure impacting drivers is Interstate 70 from Hays to Limon, Colo. There are also several highway closures including:

U.S. 36 from the Colorado border to Norton

K-27 south at the Nebraska border

K-161 south at the Nebraska border

Highway 50 from Cimarron to Dodge City

You can keep up with closures and current road conditions across the state

.

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(UPDATE Sunday 3:35 p.m.)

In addition to road closures, we know there are power outages impacting residents out west with this blast of late-April winter weather.

A little before noon, Victory Electric reported about 240 outages, mostly west of Cimarron and SW of Jemore. The company has not provided an update since then, but says road conditions were giving crews problems trying to get around.

We have not seen an outage total for Wheatland Electric, but the company did issue the following statement, indicating widespread outages.

Our 800#, email and Facebook messaging are bing overrun with reports of outages. Our operations and dispatch personnel have a good handle on where the outages are. Unfortunately, we just can't keep up with the volume of reports. We will continue to work to restore the outages as best we can. *** If you see or know of downed power lines or broken poles please do not go near them and please report them here or our 800#, if you are able to get through. Please provide as accurate of a location as possible including full address and city where the downed pole or lines are located.

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(UPDATE Sunday 3 p.m.)

Added to the road closures is Highway 50 from Cimarron to Dodge City. The National Weather Service out of Dodge City reports the light snow across southwest Kansas is expected to dissipate through the evening, but several counties across the west remain in a winter storm warning until at least 7 p.m.

(UPDATE Sunday 2:05 p.m.)

The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed the following roads in Northwest Kansas because of winter weather conditions:

U.S. 36 is now closed from the Colorado border to Norton

K-27 is now closed south at the Nebraska border

K-161 is closed south at the Nebraska border

Eyewitness News reporter Brenda Carrasco has a live report from Garden City:

Brenda in Garden Pt. 2

Garden City winter storm coverage from Brenda Carrasco. Winter Weather Warning still in effect for many counties. READ MORE on our live blog: http://www.kwch.com/content/news/winter-weather-strikes-western-kansas-420844553.html

Posted by KWCH 12 Eyewitness News on Sunday, April 30, 2017

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(UPDATE Sunday 1:40 p.m.)

Winter storm warning remains in affects until 7:00 p.m. for the following counties: Trego, Scott, Lane, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Stanton, Grant, and Haskell.

Expect heavy snow to continue through the afternoon. Significant impacts likely.

Expect tree limb damage due to loading on trees from heavy, wet snow and strong gusty winds. Power interruptions possible. Snow covered roads with visibility commonly reduced to 1/2 mile or less at times.

(UPDATE Sunday 12:55 p.m.)

Road closure update from the Kansas Department of Transportation:

The Kansas Department of Transportation has closed the following roads in Northwest Kansas because of winter weather conditions:

I-70 from Hays to the Colorado border

U.S. 24 from Colby to Hoxie

U.S. 36 from Atwood to Norton

U.S. 40 from Oakley to the Colorado border

U.S. 83 south of the Nebraska state line

K-9 west of the Norton/Decatur county line

K-25 south of the Nebraska state line

K-27 south of the U.S. 36 junction

K-117 north of the U.S. 36 junction

K-383 from the U.S. 83 junction to the west U.S. 36 junction

(UPDATE Sunday 12:45 p.m.)

The Kansas Army National Guard partially activated to assist in State Emergency Operations.

Kansas National Guard Stranded Motorist Assistance Recovery Teams are operational to assist motorists stranded by closed or impassable roads.

Teams are working out of Colby with additional teams on standby or moving to Greeley, Kearny, Lane, Morton, and Norton counties.

The Colby and Norton armories are also open as warming centers for stranded motorists.

(UPDATE Sunday 11:45 a.m.)

The winter weather warning has been cancelled. The National Weather Service in Hastings has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for snow and blowing snow in effect until 6:00 a.m. Monday.

Wet, sticky snow, blowing snow, and sleet are still a hazard.

The combination of snow and strong winds could reduce visibility to around one-half mile or less at times, perhaps with brief, near-blizzard conditions in the heaviest narrow snow bands.

Wet, accumulating snow will continue or still occur, especially within counties west of the Highway 281 corridor.

(UPDATE Sunday 11:20 a.m.)

Most highways in western Kansas remain completely covered in snow and several are closed.

To see how your commute will be affected,

.

(UPDATE Sunday 10:30 a.m.)

I-70 west of Hays, Kansas remains closed due to winter weather conditions.

Other highways closed include: US-83 between Sublette and Oakley, US-40 from Oakley to the Colorado border, K-96 west of Ness City to the Colorado border, K-156 west of Jetmore to the Colorado border, US-54 west of US-83.

For a map of all highway and interstate closures,

.

(UPDATE Sunday 9:30 a.m.)

Blizzard warning in effect for parts of western Kansas until 1 A.M. CDT. Heavy snow and wind gusts of 50-60 m.p.h., are affecting NW-Kansas this morning. Rain and embedded thunderstorms continue across central and eastern Kansas. Winter Storm Warnings cover much of SW-Kansas. Snowfall amounts of 6-12" will be common through the afternoon, with blowing and drifting snow and white out conditions. Temperatures are in the 30s and 40s with wind chills in the teens and 20s (western Kansas). Temperatures will remain steady throughout the day.

A major late season winter storm is moving across Kansas today. Blizzard conditions will cause white-out conditions through the afternoon and travel is discouraged across most of western Kansas through the afternoon and early evening. Wind gusts between 50-60 m.p.h., will be common for NW-Kansas while gusts of 30-40 m.p.h., are expected for parts of central and southwest Kansas. Wind and snow will taper to light snow and flurries by early evening. The snow will remain heaviest in the west, while areas further east like; Salina, Hutchinson and Great Bend may see a few flurries and light snow this evening, but accumulations are not expected at this time.

This storm system will exit Kansas tonight, taking the precipitation and clouds with it. Monday will be mostly sunny and warmer with the coldest temperatures in areas that still have snow on the ground. Highs will range from the 40s and low 50s over the snow cover to the 60s elsewhere. The next chance of showers and storms comes on Tuesday night and Wednesday, however this storm does not look as strong as the one today. Temperatures will warm into the 70s by next weekend.

Wichita Areas Forecast:

Today: Windy and cold with scattered showers. Wind: NW/W 15-25; gusty. High: 46.

Tonight: Showers ending, mostly cloudy and breezy. Wind: W 15-25; gusty. Low: 37.

Monday: Becoming mostly sunny, breezy. Wind: W 10-25; gusty. High: 67.

Monday night: Mostly clear to partly cloudy. Wind: W 5-10. Low: 45.

Tue: High: 68 Partly to mostly cloudy. Showers and storms overnight.

Wed: High: 64 Low: 47 Mostly cloudy, scattered showers, a few storms.

Thu: High: 69 Low: 44 Mostly sunny, breezy.

Fri: High: 72 Low: 47 Sunny, warmer.

Sat: High: 76 Low: 51 Mostly sunny.

Sun: High: 79 Low: 55 Mostly sunny, breezy.