I-70 reopens following severe weather, drivers still urged to use caution

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FILE(Phil Anderson)
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 2:30 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Interstate 70 has reopened after it was closed most of the afternoon in both directions due to severe weather that swept the state.

As of 5:40 p.m., the Kansas Department of Transportation says I-70 has reopened in both directions. It said various highways in the western and southern parts of the state were closed for several hours because of high winds, low visibility, downed power lines and crashes that blocked roadways.

KDOT said all highways have been reopened, however, drivers should continue to use extra caution and avoid travel if possible. It said some winds and blowing dust are expected to continue throughout the evening.

Drivers were warned to stay weather aware on Wednesday as high winds and low visibility caused multiple crashes and closures in the western part of the state.

The Kansas Department of Transportation said it had closed various major roadways in western Kansas, including Interstate 70 from the Colorado border to Salina, Kan.

The closures started in Hays, crept toward Russell by the afternoon and by the evening have impacted Salina as well.

KDOT said eastbound I-70 remains closed between Goodland and Russell.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said troopers were actively working at least four semi roll-over crashes due to the high winds in the north-central part of the state.

The Riley County Police Department put out a note to residents on Facebook that traffic lights around Manhattan have gone out due to the weather. If approaching an intersection with a dark signal, all drivers should stop at the intersection and proceed as if it were a four-way stop. If law enforcement is in the area, they will direct traffic.

RCPD said it avoids travel at this time as a Tornado Warning has been issued for the county until 4 p.m.

As of 1:50 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, KDOT said road closures include:

  • Northwest Kansas
    • I-70 in both directions from the Colorado state line to Russell.
    • All state routes in Cheyenne, Decatur, Gove, Logan, Rawlins, Sheridan, Sherman, Thomas and Wallace.
  • Southwest Kansas
    • KHP has closed U.S. 54 at mile marker 33 about three miles east of Plains in Meade Co. due to low visibility.
    • All highways out of Ulysses have been closed due to blowing dirt, including U.S. 160 and K-27 in both directions.
    • K-25 has been closed at milepost 38 in Grant Co. from the Stevens Co. line north to Ulysses due to a crash.
    • K-25 has been closed in the City of Lakin due to debris on the highway.
    • U.S. 83 has been closed about seven miles south of Garden City due to a downed power line.
    • K-96 has been closed from the Colorado state line to K-27 at Tribune.
    • U.S. 50 from K-27 to K-25 has been closed.

A Tornado Watch has been issued for parts of NE Kansas until 8 p.m.

KDOT said more closures would more than likely continue throughout the afternoon. For up-to-date information about state road closures and conditions, click HERE.

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