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Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

Snow storm strikes area

Thursday, February 5, 2004

(Photo)
Teresa Bye shovels snow off the sidewalk of US Bank Thursday morning.
SIKESTON - The second storm of the week moved through the Central Plains Wednesday, this time leaving rain, snow and slush on Southeast Missouri highways.

Snowplows were out early Thursday clearing the roads. Area sheriff and police departments reported a few accidents, but for the most part most were "fender-benders" with few injuries reported.

As snow continued to fall early today, a number of schools either called off classes or started them late. Sikeston schools and those south had classes with Charleston starting classes an hour late today. School north of Sikeston including Kelly, Bloomfield, Kelso, Scott County Central, Advance and Bell City, were closed.

Some schools in the southwest corner of Kansas, including those in Cimarron, Dighton, Holcomb, Scott City and Tribune, didn't have classes on Wednesday, and evening events were cancelled in other areas, including Wichita, where Wichita State University cancelled night classes.

In central Kansas, some schools in areas near the Oklahoma border called off classes for Thursday. Further to the north and east, most school districts in the greater Kansas City area were not having classes Thursday, among them those in Kansas City, Mo., and the Shawnee Mission, Olathe and Blue Valley districts on the Kansas side of the state line.

In northwest Kansas, just under 7 inches of snow was reported near Norton, with 1 to 3 inches more common in that section of the state. During the late evening hours and overnight light snow had ended in that region, changing briefly to light freezing drizzle and rain, the National Weather Service said.

Snowfall totals in areas of central Kansas included up to 6 inches at Hillsboro, Ellsworth, Cottonwood Falls and Clearwater.

In Kansas City and outlying regions, about 2 inches of snow had accumulated before daybreak, with additional snow falling.

The National Weather Service in Springfield said a large area of precipitation over Arkansas was tracking northward. It said that with surface temperatures at or just below freezing and a warm air layer aloft, a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain was likely over south central Missouri.

Forecasters said additional snow of up to 2 inches was possible through Thursday morning, with ice accumulating as well. They said total snow accumulations in that region of the state were expected to range between 5 and 9 inches by Thursday afternoon.

The weather service said a few areas of thundersnow developed in parts of southern Missouri near the Arkansas border, bringing a quick 3 to 5 inches of snow to areas from Gainesville to West Plains. Some areas east of Branson had 6 inches of snow before midnight.

In Wichita, street crews had just finished clearing secondary streets of snow left by the earlier storm when new snow began falling Wednesday. But the city's arterial streets remained clear throughout the day thanks to a pair of lengthy lulls in the snowfall that allowed crews to keep up while treating the streets with sand and salt.

Trooper Gary Warner of the Kansas Highway Patrol reported troopers noticed children sledding in illegal and dangerous places near major highways. He said he counted about 50 children, many of them accompanied by parents, sledding near an Interstate 235 interchange northwest of Wichita.

''It is a widespread problem,'' he said. ''Our biggest concern is the safety issue. It's incredibly dangerous to be in an area where traffic's moving by at a high rate of speed.''

In Reno County, Dennis Stiffler was busy driving a snowplow, something he's been doing for 16 years.

Stiffler said he feels pretty safe in the cab of a county road grader. Relying on its massive tires, large plow and dump truck bed full of salt and sand, there isn't too much about working in winter snowstorms that bothers him.

Except other drivers.

''People just go so fast and don't slow down for anything,'' Stiffler said. ''That's what causes the accidents.''

With more than 3 inches of snow falling during the day Wednesday - sending students home early from school and canceling evening activities - snowplow drivers were kept busy spreading salt and sand in what seemed like a never-ending battle to keep the roads clear.

''The most aggravating part of my job is being out here, doing a good job of clearing the roads and then somebody calls in and says that there hasn't been a plow by here yet,'' Stiffler said.

Driving along country roads east and northeast of Hutchinson, Stiffler cleared drifts from roads he had been down just three hours earlier. With snowflakes falling outside the truck's window, however, he knew it wouldn't be long until he'd be back down the same road.

''When it's snowing we run 14 hours a day or through the night if it's a heck of a storm,'' said county highway superintendent Ed Watkins.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.