The first snowstorm of 2019 in northwest Kansas packed enough punch to keep the governor-elect from coming to Hays, but not enough to keep people off the roads.
Late Friday afternoon, Ellis, Trego and Ness counties were issued a winter storm warning into mid-morning Saturday that extended into Hodgeman and Finney counties.
Across the region, 5 to 6.6 inches of snow seemed to be the average reading of volunteers with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, but some areas reported 8 inches, including stations 11 miles southwest of Hoxie, 10 miles northwest of Stockton and 6 miles southwest of Utica.
Ellis County recordings in CoCoRahs ranged from 4.3 inches 1.5 miles northwest of Hays to 6.5 inches just northeast of town.
Gov.-elect Laura Kelly was scheduled to participate in a day of service in Hays on Saturday as part of her inaugural celebration, but her flight was canceled late Friday afternoon, Henry Schwaller, chair of the Ellis County Democratic Party, said.
Road transportation was difficult as well, with numerous slide-offs keeping local law enforcement and the Kansas Highway Patrol busy Friday afternoon into the evening hours as the storm progressed from rain to snow.
Ellis County Sheriff’s Deputy Lance Fisher said there were still slide-offs occurring into Saturday afternoon, but was aware of only one minor injury report from a vehicle that slid off Interstate 70 near the Toulon exit. Several vehicles, including a semi tractor-trailer, had gone off the interstate in between Yocemento and Hays.
Several area residents were reported by the Kansas Highway Patrol to have suspected minor injuries after a one-vehicle crash in Barton County late Friday night.
According to the KHP, Kyle Urban, 31, Ellis, was driving a 2013 Toyota 4 Runner eastbound on Kansas Highway 4 when he lost control in the snow and slush about 2 miles east of Hoisington at about 10:30 p.m. The Toyota rolled and came to rest on its top.
Passenger Travis Schmidt, 30, Ellis, was taken to Clara Barton Hospital, Great Bend. Urban and passenger Joseph A. Shelly, 37, Plainville, were not transported, according to the KHP report. All were using safety restraints.
Another chance of chance of snow is in the forecast for Friday, according to the National Weather Service.