A storm system that brought heavy snow and rain to California is expected to create hazardous travel conditions across the southern Plains this weekend, with crippling ice accumulations and heavy rain, according to forecasters.
The National Weather Service has an ice storm warning Thursday for the north-west of Oklahoma, much of Kansas and Missouri, and parts of Illinois.
Forecasters said a significant ice storm and the entire region could see up to 1 inch of ice, with additional storms expected to impact the area on Saturday and Sunday.
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“We could see some fairly significant ice accumulations,” Kevin Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, told the Associated Press. “Enough ice accumulations to cause a lot of problems with trees and power lines and power outages.”
Latest % chance of receiving >0.1″ and >0.5″ of freezing rain through Sunday evening. #icestorm https://t.co/ylHw1Ojlwm pic.twitter.com/uY39x4pypt
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) 12 January 2017
In Oklahoma City, the crew spent a great part of the day pre-treating bridges and overpasses, Fox 25 reported.
Oklahoma City said that up to 34 salt and the plow trucks are available to treat and clear snow routes, and that the crew will work in 12-hour shifts until the storm is over.
Residents have been snatching up flashlights, batteries, and alternative energy sources in anticipation of power outages.
“They grab generators, and I’m sold,” says Raymond Bopp, assistant manager of the Woodward Ace Hardware store in Woodward, Oklahoma, about 140 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.
The last time the area experienced a significant ice storm was in 2001, when power was interrupted for three or four days, Bopp said.
In Kansas, up to 1 inch of ice was expected that in “multiple rounds” of freezing rain between Friday and early Monday in parts of the state.
Further to the east, in Missouri, officials in Kansas City, Mo. his urging of patience and ask people to avoid travelling.
Troy Schulte, city manager for Kansas City, told Fox 4 this weekend is a great for the city Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs-Pittsburgh Steelers division playoff game.
“The pavement temperature will determine whether ice was,” he told FOX 4. “It will not solve the problem with the limbs down on the power lines that is the major public safety, order, but allows us to hopefully keep the roads passable both for the emergency equipment and we hosting 80,000 people on Sunday.”
The concern about the storm prompted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for the activation of the state Emergency Operations Center.
“Everyone should be aware that this potential weather event can disrupt travel and cause power outages in the whole country,” Greitens said in a statement.
In the St. Louis area hospitals are preparing for the ice storm with crews to bring cots, so that nurses can spend the night, FOX 2 reported.
Helen Sandkuhl, Director of Disaster Services at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, said the hospital is prepared to care for patients, family and staff no matter how bad the weather is.
“You worry about all the sick people at home who have medical equipment now they don’t have power, so they come to the emergency department,” Sandkuhl told FOX 2.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said that abandoned vehicles on motorways and highways can be drawn when they are impeding the flow of traffic, and the drivers retrieve their vehicles and off-road shoulders as soon as possible.
“As soon as this starts to hit … we are going to start towing vehicles that are on the shoulders,” said Cpl. Justin Wheatley with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
In California, the storm brought heavy snowfall in the higher elevations, and led thousands of people to evacuate as the rivers rose significantly. Forecasters say the Pacific Ocean moisture that helped feed the storm has shifted south, and the potential for ice and heavy rainfall in the south of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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