A winter storm system is forecast to hit portions of northwest and north central Kansas overnight tonight, with the most intense part of the storm beginning approximately 3 a.m. Saturday morning through mid-day with snow and extreme blowing snow that will limit visibility on affected Kansas roadways.

The greatest area of concern will be along the Kansas/Colorado/Nebraska border south to Sherman County and east to Rooks County. Snow accumulations of 2-5 inches are possible with northerly winds of 20-35 mph gusting to 45 mph, causing brief blizzard-like conditions.

Gov. Jeff Colyer has issued a State of Disaster Emergency proclamation which authorizes the use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties.

“Winter storms in Kansas can be very dangerous, as we have seen from the recent storm system that just moved through our state,” said Colyer. “Please exercise extreme caution when considering whether to travel during a winter event like this one, and if at all possible postpone travel until road and weather conditions become safe again.”

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will activate the State Emergency Operations Center in Topeka to a partial level to monitor weather conditions and stand by to receive any requests for state assistance. KDEM staff are working with the Kansas National Guard’s Joint Operations Center to deploy Stranded Motorist Assistance Response Teams to Colby, Hays, Norton, St. Francis, and Smith Center.

Kansans are urged to change or delay their travel plans in these areas until the storm moves through. Winter road conditions are accessible by dialing 5-1-1 from your mobile phone anywhere in Kansas; outside Kansas call 1-866-511-5368 (KDOT). Road conditions many also be viewed on the Kansas Department of Transportation web site at http://kandrive.org.

If you must travel, be sure your car’s gas tank is full and you have an emergency kit. Vehicle emergency kits should include blankets, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone charger, hand-warmers, high-energy food snacks, bottled water, necessary medications, a snow shovel, flares and other emergency supplies. Make sure your cell phone is charged and someone is aware of your itinerary, including expected time of arrival.

Information on winter driving tips is available from the Kansas Highway Patrol at http://www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/259/Winter-Driving-Tips. You can also follow the Kansas Highway Patrol on Facebook and Twitter at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org.

Outdoor pets are especially vulnerable to bitter cold and extreme wind chills. Bring outdoor pets inside if possible or ensure that they have a draft-free enclosure with straw-type bedding that is large enough for your pets to lie down, but small enough to hold in body heat if they must remain outside. Always make sure that your pets have access to food and non-frozen water.

For additional pet safety information, go to www.avma.org or https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/cold-weather-safety-tips.

For a complete list of items for an emergency kit, go to www.ready.gov.