The Norman Transcript

February 25, 2013

Blizzard bearing down on Oklahoma, other Plains states

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

DODGE CITY, Kan. — A second major winter storm was bearing down Sunday on the central Plains, forcing cancellations and sending public works crews scrambling for salt and sand supplies less than a week after another system dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the region.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard watch from Sunday evening through late tonight for much of western Kansas ahead of the strong storm system packing high winds and sleet that has been tracking across western Texas toward Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. The area was hit by a massive storm last week that dumped a foot of snow in some sections, closed airports and caused numerous accidents.

“It would have been nice if we’d had a few days to recover, to do some equipment rehab,” said Joe Pajor, deputy director of public works in Wichita, which saw its second-highest snowfall ever Thursday with 14.2 inches.

Other totals from the Thursday snowstorm included 18 inches in the southern Kansas town of Zenda; 17 inches in Hays, Kan.; about 13 inches in northeast Missouri and 12 inches of snow in parts of Kansas City.

Steve Corfidi, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, said the storm also will affect southern states and could spawn tornadoes Tuesday in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, the Florida Panhandle and Georgia.

“It definitely will be one of the more significant events of the season, the winter season, absolutely, Corfidi said. “Both in winter weather and severe weather potential, and rain, down in the southeast United States.”

More than a foot of snow is possible from the Texas Panhandle, across the Oklahoma Panhandle and into Kansas and possibly Missouri as the storm moves eastward from the southwestern United States.

While snowfall is expected to taper off by this afternoon, wind gusts of up to 35 mph will remain a hazard, said Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Amarillo, Texas, office.

Pajor told The Wichita Eagle the new storm “looks worse than the last one” and that sand and salt supplies are low because of last week’s record storm, as are the number of locations where snow can be transported off city streets. He said the plowing strategy for the new blizzard may have to involve plowing snow into the center of arterial streets, and cutting traffic to one lane each direction.

He also said streets won’t be treated with the city’s limited sand and salt supplies until the snow ends and plowing is under way.

The threat of the pending storm forced cancellations Sunday and Monday in Kansas and Missouri, including the championship basketball tournament for the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Association, which rescheduled the tournament for Tuesday in Park City, Kan.

Matt Lehenbauer, emergency management director for Woodward County, Okla., said he expects rain or snow to begin there Sunday evening and forecast up to a foot of snow and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour.

“We may not get the roads cleared until midday Tuesday if we get the expected amount of snow and wind. As its falling, in the blizzard-like conditions, we just won’t be able to keep up,” he said.

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