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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • First taste of snow, ice snarls traffic

  • Slick roads, power outages and brutal winds — all aspects of a “white Christmas” most would likely forego, given the choice.
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  • Slick roads, power outages and brutal winds — all aspects of a “white Christmas” most would likely forego, given the choice. But that's what the system that moved through Kansas Thursday morning brought in the first significant snowfall in almost a year. Leavenworth Public Works Director Mike McDonald said rain Wednesday night turned to snow some time after midnight. Crews were on standby before that time in anticipation of the forecast, in which the possibility of snowfall accumulation grew more certain as Wednesday drew closer. Having cleared emergency snow routes first, he said crews turned their attention to residential streets. “We're doing the work with our own forces instead of contracting it out,” this year, he said. The Leavenworth Regional Catholic, Fort Leavenworth and Lansing school districts had already ended classes for the holiday break, but Leavenworth and schools were canceled for the day. Fort Leavenworth asked only essential personnel to come to work, while the city of Leavenworth delayed its scheduled trash collection from Thursday to Friday. Technical Trooper Howard Dickinson, a public information officer for the Kansas Highway Patrol, said the morning hours Thursday were busy ones for his department. “This morning was basically a double crew,” he said, “and everybody was moving.” Dickinson added, however, that there were no serious accidents reported on the state's highways, despite plenty of slideoffs and minor accidents, especially around already busy areas like Highway 69 and Interstate 35 in Johnson County. Law enforcement here, too, was busy trying to keep pace with the number of drivers who had slid off the roads or become stuck. Undersheriff Ron Cranor said Leavenworth County Sheriff officers responded to numerous accidents on the county's roads, but most were minor. “We didn't have any fatality accidents and we didn't have any serious injuries,” he said. No serious accidents had been reported on the Kansas Turnpike, either. McDonald said public works crews dealt with snow accumulation that was spotty because of strong wind gusts that caused drifting, as well as power outages that knocked out a number of traffic signals in the city. One of the Leavenworth Fire Department's stations was running on generator power Thursday afternoon after it lost electricity. The county's primary electricity provider, Westar Energy, was working on restoring service to the 5,600 reported outages in its service area. Of those, about 2,460 were in Leavenworth County, according to Westar spokeswoman Erin La Row. “The northeast part of our territory was hit the hardest,” she said. In a majority of those cases, wind was the likely culprit, La Row said. And while some of the outages were expected to be corrected by Thursday evening, she said some of the customers in the area that includes Leavenworth might get their power back until noon Friday. In the meantime, McDonald said crews would continue working on the streets, though with high temperatures over the weekend forecast above the freezing mark and sunny conditions, the snow could be mostly gone by Monday.
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