Freezing rain pelted the Lawrence area early this morning, glazing streets, frustrating drivers and sending road crews out to try to make the best of a bad weather situation.
The freezing rain and sleet is expected to last through Thursday evening, according to forecasters at the Kansas University Weather Service.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Department reported 11 accidents in the county between 6:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. that were attributed to slick, icy roads. Only one of those accidents involved an injury.
Rob Edmiston, a forecaster with the weather service, said this morning that the sleet was the result of a clash between moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico and a cold air mass descending from Canada.
TOM STARK, another forecaster for the weather service, said his forecast called for the frozen rain to fall until late in the afternoon or early evening Thursday.
In the meantime, the National Weather Service in Topeka issued a winter weather advisory for the entire state through Thursday afternoon, meaning the service expects sleet and freezing drizzle.
Steve Kinser, forecaster for the NWS, said today that the "winter weather advisory" is what formerly was called a "travel advisory" and means travel on the state's highways will be hazardous through Thursday afternoon.
Kisner also predicted conditions would improve by Thursday afternoon.
Locally, Stark's forecast calls for tonight's low temperature to be 22 degrees and Thursday's high mark to be a scant 26 degrees. Stark also predicted Thursday night's low to plummet to a mere 15 degrees while Friday's high should skyrocket all the way to 31 degrees.
BUTCH SILVERS, city street supervisor, said his crews hit the streets about 7 a.m. today to combat the icy, hazardous conditions that resulted from the drizzle.
By noon today, Silvers said, the city's main arteries had only a little ice between tire tracks and along the center line, but were safe to travel.
Side streets, parking lots and sidewalks still were slick at noon, he said.
City crews spread pure salt on priority streets and poured a sand and salt mixture on the city's hills and side streets, he said.
Silvers said the crews would work through tonight if freezing rain continued to fall.
AREA FLOWER shops reported mixed effects of the icy streets on their busiest day of the year.
Xanthippe Stevens, a temporary employee at Owens Flower Shop, said this morning that the slick road conditions had slowed their deliveries considerably.
Stevens said a van load of deliveries that normally can be delivered in about an hour took up to two hours today.
"We're real busy and it's taking us a lot longer to deliver," she said.
On the other hand, JoAnn Shipley, owner of Lawrence Floral and Gifts, said her delivery people were having to be extra careful, which took a little more time, but reported no trouble making deliveries.
"I haven't noticed it to be a real problem," Shipley said.
THE WEATHER made morning rush hour travel hazardous.
In Wyandotte County, a 32-year-old woman died in a collision on Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Kan., in one of four accidents along a 100-foot stretch of the ice-slicked road.
``From there it just escalated,'' said Sgt. Richard Sprague of the Kansas City, Kan., police. ``These bridges were just unreal.''
In Johnson County, there were five accidents within 20 minutes near Lenexa, and there were clusters of accidents on Interstate 35 in Olathe.
Police in southeast Kansas said one person was killed in a three-car accident on an icy bridge over the Neosho River, along Kansas 39 east of Chanute.
ELSEWHERE in the state, snow flurries fell throughout much of the night in the northwest corner of Kansas, but there was little accumulation. Freezing drizzle, sleet and light snow developed over the east.
Tonight there will be snow in the west, with more freezing rain and sleet from the south central to northeast. Significant glazing is possible.
The weather service said lows will be near 10 northwest to the mid-30s in the southeast.
Snow will diminish Thursday in the west, and mixed precipitation will slow during the afternoon in the east. Highs were expected from 15 to 20 in the northwest to near 40 in the southeast.
It will be cold Friday, with highs in the 20s to lower 30s, but will warm over the weekend with little precipitation. Temperatures will rise to the 40s in the east and 50s in the west by Sunday.
Lows will be zero to 5 above in the northwest to the teens southeast on Friday.