Snow showers and high winds plunged northwest Kansas into blizzard-like conditions as a snow storm blew through the area Sunday night into Monday morning, causing schools, businesses and highways to close.
The storm dumped nearly a foot of snow in the far northwest corner of the state, with 11 inches reported near St. Francis and 9 inches near Goodland. Approximately 2 inches were reported near Hays as of Monday morning, according to reports on the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
Despite lesser snow amounts farther east, conditions still were dangerous, largely due to wind gusts nearing 50 mph in much of the region. Near white-out conditions were reported, and main highways were closed from Sunday night until Monday afternoon.
The storm also caused power outages throughout Monday morning, affecting approximately 3,000 Midwest Energy customers early in the day.
The number of area residents without power had been reduced to approximately 240 by Monday evening, affecting rural areas in Thomas, Logan and Sherman counties, according to information from Midwest Energy. All customers were expected to be back online Monday night.
The heaviest damage was sustained near the city of Victoria, where a substation blew a transformer, leaving many Victoria residents without power throughout the morning.
Most school districts in the northwest Kansas region canceled classes Monday, or at least delayed the beginning of school. Many businesses also announced delayed openings or closures due to weather.
Emergency snow routes were effective in Hays until Monday afternoon, but the status of emergency has been lifted. Residents can resume curbside parking in affected areas.
The City of Hays continued to remove snow from streets into Monday night, when they began to concentrate on the downtown area, according to a media release from the city.
While snow removal efforts are continuing, Hays Police Department still urged drivers to allow extra time for travel as a precaution.
“Please remember to drive slow, pay attention to vehicles in front of you and allow for extra stopping distance,” Police Chief Don Scheibler said in the media release.
By this morning, the majority of roads in Hays had been cleared or snow melted off of them in the sunshine Monday afternoon.
In Colby, where Goodland National Weather Service reported 6 inches of snow, a level two snow emergency was declared Monday morning, making it illegal for vehicles without four-wheel drive or snow chains to be on the roads. The vehicle ban was lifted by Monday afternoon, allowing travel to resume.
Interstate 70 temporarily closed at WaKeeney, U.S. Highway 36 closed at Norton, and U.S. Highway 40 closed at Oakley. The roads reopened Monday afternoon, but officials with the Kansas Highway Patrol reported accidents and slide-offs throughout the day due to continued slick conditions.
A semi slid into the Interstate 70 median just west of Russell on Monday, temporarily blocking westbound traffic, according to KHP Trooper Tod Hileman. A minor guardrail crash also was reported near Hays. No injury accidents were reported in the area.
“KDOT has done a great job of clearing the roads,” Hileman posted on his official Facebook account. “You still may encounter a slick spot from time to time, just look well down the road to see them and slow way down before you drive through it.”
Clear conditions returned by Monday afternoon, and it was predicted to be clear and sunny for the rest of the week.
“We’re expecting dry conditions to return for the rest of the week, temperatures around 50 on Thursday,” said Brian Warren, observation program leader at Goodland National Weather Service. “Pretty much the storm is out, and then we’ll be watching for the next one when it comes.”