Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 1989


December 19, 1989


The snow that started falling on Lawrence Monday morning kept city street crews busy during the night clearing local streets.

George Williams, director of public works, said this morning that his street crews worked through Monday clearing streets of snow and treating icy spots that made for hazardous driving conditions.

Plans called for crews to work all day today and possibly late into tonight to clear the downtown area of winter buildup, Williams said.

However, the haggard crews should get a rest Wednesday, according to a Kansas University Weather Service forecaster.

Mark Bogner, the forecaster, said this morning that the area will not receive more snow accumulations, although he predicts light snow flurries for Wednesday, Wednesday night and Thursday.

As snow leaves the forecast, it is being replaced by extreme cold temperatures, Bogner said. Tonight's low is expected to be 9 degrees while Wednesday's high temperature is predicted to be a mere 14 degrees, he said. The low Wednesday night should be 3 degrees and Thursday's high temperature is expected to be a scant 7 degrees.

THE EXTREME temperatures will result from a cold air mass currently above northern Canada but is moving this direction, Bogner said. The Lawrence area has been 20 degrees to 30 degrees below normal December temperatures for about two weeks, he said.

Bogner said 3.4 inches of snow fell on the area Monday, bringing the total amount of snow on the ground to 5 inches. The snow produced .23 of an inch of moisture, he said.

The Lawrence police reported this morning that the cold and icy conditions contributed to 24 automobile accidents from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. today. The accidents resulted in only two minor injuries.

A Douglas County Sheriff's Department representative said nine accidents were reported during the period, but no one was injured in the mishaps.

Officials said this morning that the slick conditions caused an injury accident about 2:45 p.m. Monday on the Kansas Turnpike about 11 miles west of the West Lawrence Interchange. Lawrence firefighters, who were called to the scene, reported today that two automobiles and a tractor-trailer rig were involved in the accident. Kathy Fitzgerald, 47, 2929 Iris, was treated and released from Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

WILLIAMS SAID his crews begin work by clearing snow from streets using a grader. Trucks equipped with snow plows, as well as sand and salt spreaders then come through and treat ice that has formed on streets.

Crews began treating local streets with sand and salt late Monday morning and began plowing snow to the side of the streets shortly before 5 p.m., Williams said.

But the routine doesn't always work, he said. Last weekend, when temperatures dropped well below zero, pure salt no longer could melt the ice, he said.

Before the snow hit, the city had about 100 tons of salt on hand. Williams said he ordered 200 more tons early last week and expects to order 200 more tons today. Five hundreds tons of sand also are on hand to combat icy conditions, he said.

Butch Silvers, city street maintenance manager, said this morning that the city sets priorities on which streets will be cleared first.

CITY PLOWS concentrate first on removing snow from the main arteries, including Sixth Street, a portion of 15th Street, 23rd Street, 31st Street, Haskell Avenue, Iowa Street and Kasold Drive.

The second priority list includes Ninth Street, 19th Street, 27th Street, Clinton Parkway, other portions of 15th Street, parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Connecticut and Barker, Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana streets, and parts of Lawrence Avenue and Wakarusa Drive.

Areas around schools that have not yet been cleared are done next. Once those areas are cleared, work begins on other residential streets.

Under city street standards, the two top priority areas must have bare pavement showing on the streets.

Several water treatment plants in Kansas and Missouri have reported problems with ice in their water supplies blocking their intake points, but Lawrence has escaped that threat so far.

ROGER COFFEY, director of utilities, said he and his plant operators keep a close watch on the Kansas River for obstructions that affect the city's water intake point at Third and Louisiana streets.

During a thawing period, slush also can reduce the city's water intake capabilities, Coffey said.

If ice threatens the intake, operators "backwash" the system by running water back through it instead of pulling water into it, Coffey said.

Short of backwashing, the operators are left with few devices to reduce the threat of ice blocking the intake.

"Beyond that point, nature kind of overwhelms us," Coffey said. "But so far things are looking good."

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