As if to reaffirm Punxsutawney Phil's prediction there will be no early spring this year, most of Kansas is dealing with harsh winter weather this week. Most reasonable people likely don't put much faith in the prognosticating groundhog; we just found it coincidental that one day after Groundhog Day the Sunflower State was in a winter weather advisory.
The brunt of the storm appears to be east of Ellis County, although the entire northwest region will experience snow, low temperatures and wind. The forecast calls for most of the snow to hit today, then bitter cold Wednesday and Thursday. Winds will be out of the north, driving the wind chill factor to dangerous levels.
"This storm is looking to be the largest winter storm we have had in 2014," Gov. Sam Brownback said. "Although the storm will hit most of the state, the most affected areas will be the northeast, north-central and south-central regions. We urge motorists to be prepared for snowy road conditions and limited visibility due to blowing snow."
Local and state crews did as much prep work as possible. Now it is up to individual preparedness to make it safely through the storm.
Unless travel is absolutely necessary, stay home. If you must hit the road, carry emergency supplies just in case.
"Make sure your vehicle's emergency kit is stocked, your gas tank is full and your cellphone and charger are with you and someone knows your travel plans," said Col. Ernest Garcia, Kansas Highway Patrol superintendent.
Remember to allow plenty of extra time to get where you're going. Also, know stopping distances are longer on snow- and ice-packed roads, that you should steer into a skid, stomp on antilock brakes and pump on non-antilock brakes, accelerate and brake gently, turn slowly, ensure visibility through every window on your vehicle and, above all, practice patience and consideration.
Road conditions can be checked through the Kansas Department of Transportation. Check kandrive.org or call 511 from any phone.
Keep warm and safe. Even with Punxsutawney Phil's forecast, spring is less than six weeks away.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry