TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The snow fall predicted for areas of northeast Kansas Wednesday night into Thursday could match levels seen all of last winter.
State and local emergency services personnel are making sure they are prepared.
"We are currently in final preparation mode," Ron Raines, Director of Street Maintenance & Traffic Operations for the City of Topeka, said. "We have 10 vehicles or dump trucks ready to roll at about 9 o'clock this evening," he said. The night crew will arrive to work at 8:00 p.m Wednesday evening.
The City of Topeka has 10 of it's 16 trucks staged with bulk de-icing material, an enhanced rock salt product that won't clog storm sewers. Salt is used on a majority of Topeka's street, with the temporary exception of new road construction projects that need to be treated with sand, Raines said.
Workers intend to treat all arterial, collector and local roadways with 200 pounds per lane mile of the enhanced deicer between 9:00 p.m.
and 6:00 a.m. Thursday.
"It's amazing what staff can do while everybody in bed sleeping, but it'll be our highest priority to have all the streets safe and passable tomorrow morning during rush hour," he added.
With the winter storm brewing, now is a good time to make sure your car is stocked with emergency supplies, such as flares, a jumper cable, flashlights, a first aid kit and an ice scraper, says Jim Hanni, a AAA spokesman.
"This is a really good time to be thinking about when you're caught on the roadside," he said. "So when it turns cold like this, having a blanket is a good thing to have, having some non-perishable food items, maybe taking some bottled water with you."
With slick road conditions, it's also imperative to adjust driving habits.
"Immediately you're gonna have to start lengthening the driving distance between cars from the typical three to four car lengths when you're driving in normal conditions, to at least eight to ten car lengths."
"You don't want to be using your cruise control at all [and] especially be careful over bridges and overpasses," he said.
Like Topeka, the City of Manhattan has been gearing up for snow. Jeff Walters, Street Superintendent for the City of Manhattan, said all of the equipment has been checked out and sanders and plows have been placed on trucks so they are ready to hit the streets.
Crews have been split into two groups - one crew was sent home early and will report back at 8 PM tonight when the weather is supposed to get bad and the other crew will work until 5 PM tonight and report at 8 AM tomorrow so the city can cover as much ground as possible to keep roads clear and safe, Walters told WIBW.
In Junction City, public works staff have completed training on various pieces of equipment used within snow/ winter operations including review of our snow and winter routes (streets, categories, prioritization) with all staff members that would be involved. According to Greg McCaffery, Municipal Services Director, trucks, loaders, backhoes, graders, plows and spreaders have been checked for general operations and needed repairs.
The City purchased two new one ton trucks, with spreaders and plow units this year and have on hand approx. salt 250 tons, and 300 tons of pre-mix salt/ sand (a 50/50 mix). Officials have been in contact with the Geary Emergency Management staff and the police department on the conditions of the storm. Public works crews have been placed on a 12 hour rotation in the event of this storm.
Junction City has updated and developed a Snow and Winter Operations Policy (Prioritization, categorizing of all streets). This is on the city's website.
From the City of Topeka:
TOPEKA, Kan. – A storm forecast to arrive Wednesday evening is expected to bring blowing snow and below freezing temperatures into Thursday morning. The City of Topeka is prepared to deal with whatever the elements might bring.
The City is approaching this system as a Level 1 event and will have 10 trucks with material spreaders mounted, staged, and capable of immediate dispatch for applying bulk deicing material to the roadways by noon on Wednesday. These trucks will also be capable of mounting plows within minutes. The City also will have four additional trucks staged, with plows and material spreaders, and have two additional reserve units that can be called into service and activate the entire 16-truck fleet within a couple of hours, should the need arise.
The City and Street Maintenance workers are committed to keeping our streets safe and passable through this event.
We will provide updated information as the storm nears.
The Kansas Highway Patrol offers the following winter weather driving tips:
-Prepare your vehicle for winter travel by replacing wiper blades; ensuring tires have good tread and air pressure; and by checking the vehicle's fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment.
-You also may want to consider adding a shovel to your trunk, weight such as sand bags in the bed of a pickup (to help with traction and control), and carrying a sand/salt mixture in your trunk to help melt the snow and gain traction.
-The vehicle should also be stocked with items that would be beneficial if you were involved in a crash, or your vehicle became stuck. Beneficial items would be: bottled water, blankets, non-perishable food items, a first aid kit, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
-You should try to keep your gas tank full, as this adds additional weight for traction in adverse conditions, and lessens the possibility of running out of fuel if you became stuck for a long period of time.
-Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights, and use your headlights to provide optimum visibility. Make sure the entire window is clear. Having only a small portion cleared could contribute to a crash if you don't see another vehicle. You could also be ticketed.
-Accelerate and brake gently, and increase following distance between you and other vehicles. You should increase your following distance by at least one, if not two, additional seconds when driving in adverse conditions (Standard following distance for good weather is three seconds.). Be particularly cautious on bridges, and in curves, as they are often the slicker parts of the road.
-If your vehicle loses traction and begins to slide, steer in the direction you want to go.
-Allow for more time when traveling to and from work, home, school, or other activities. Check the weather before you go to bed, and set your alarm clock early if a winter storm is expected.
-Always wear your seat belt, and properly secure children in the proper child safety seats.
-Have a plan for your children should they get sent home from school early.
-If you are involved in a traffic crash, or need assistance, call 911, or contact the Patrol at *47 from your cell phone. Call *KTA if you are on the Kansas Turnpike.
-To find out road conditions, call 511 from a landline or cellular phone, or view conditions at: www.kandrive.org.
The following sites offer great information for preparing your home and vehicle for winter weather: