A crippling storm that hit the area overnight closed area schools, sent city street crews scurrying, canceled events and generated a stack of accident reports to be worked this morning by local law enforcement agencies.
However, the thick coating of ice that covered Lawrence overnight is expected to melt away, allowing more favorable conditions by Friday.
Lawrence police this morning reported 10 ice-related accidents during the day Wednesday and had been notified of fewer than a dozen additional accidents as of about 9 a.m. today. One of those accidents resulted in an injury.
A Douglas County Sheriff's Department dispatcher reported six accidents Wednesday, two of them resulting in injury.
Neither the Kansas Turnpike Authority nor the Kansas Highway Patrol reported any serious accidents in the area.
THE STORM also closed local and area school doors this morning. Classes were canceled in the Lawrence, McLouth, Baldwin, Eudora, Perry-Lecompton, Oskaloosa, Tonganoxie, Wellsville, DeSoto and Basehor-Linwood school districts.
Superintendents in the districts said today that they would not decide until later today whether school would be in session Friday.
Kansas University was conducting classes this morning, but buses were running late because of road conditions.
A Founders Day celebration at Baker University was canceled this morning because of the weather. A spokesman for the university said the event, celebrating 132 years of service, will be rescheduled.
The Warsaw Philharmonic, however, will perform as scheduled at 8 p.m. today in Hoch Auditorium on the KU campus.
BUTCH SILVERS, city street supervisor, said his crews worked throughout the night to clear streets and to plow aside slush that accumulated. Crews had the roads in pretty good condition Wednesday before the latest wave of freezing rain began to fall early this morning, Silvers said.
He said city crews would continue working around the clock as long as the freezing rain continued to fall. A mist was still falling at noon today.
Greg Noonan, forecaster for the K.U. Weather Service, said this morning that he is predicting the freezing rain to end by tonight, giving way to clearing skies and warmer temperatures toward the weekend and early next week.
Noonan said tonight's low temperature would be a mere 11 degrees; Friday's high temperature is expected to be 31 degrees under mostly sunny skies. Friday night's low mark should dip to 13 degrees, but Saturday should bring a high temperature of 40 degrees, Noonan said.
NOONAN AND the National Weather Service in Topeka also reported that the storm system should leave the area by midnight, being replaced by clearing skies and much warmer tempertures.
Temperatures over the weekend should be in the 40s and are expected to rise into the 50-degree range by early next week, the forecasters said.
Wayne Ruff, forecaster for the NWS, said the freezing rain should be replaced by light snow after dark today, but little or no accumulation was expected. Conditions should clear considerably by Friday, Ruff said.
Elsewhere in the state, freezing rain and snow created hazardous driving across Kansas today, contributing to four traffic deaths and closing schools in scattered areas.
The National Weather Service downgraded winter storm warnings that had been posted for today in northwestern and eastern Kansas but issued a winter weather advisory for freezing rain, sleet and snow in eastern and central Kansas and a snow advisory for the west.
An inch of snow fell overnight at Garden City and across north-central Kansas, and the forecast called for a mix of precipitation today.
TWO SALINA men were killed Wednesday night when a car in which they were riding skidded out of control on ice-covered Kansas Highway 140 and fell about 20 feet into a creekbed. They were identified as John Dillow, 21, and Steven Pope, 32.
Two other fatal accidents occurred earlier in the day. Randy Ketelboeter Jr., 9, of rural Chanute, died in a three-vehicle accident on an icy bridge over the Neosho River east of Chanute. Vickey Robinson, 32, of Gladstone, Mo., was killed in a crash on Interstate 70 in Kansas City, Kan. It was one of four accidents along a 100-foot stretch of the icy road.
Icy conditions prompted school officials to close dozens of schools around Kansas City, Topeka and Manhattan.
THE WEATHER service said freezing rain and snow should diminish to flurries by this afternoon after accumulations of 2 to 4 inches of snow in western Kansas. High temperatures today were expected to vary from the mid-teens in the northwest to the mid-30s in the southeast.
The weather service forecast clearing skies by late tonight with lows ranging from near zero in the northwest to about 20 in the southeast.
Sunny and warmer weather was forecast Friday, with highs expected to be in the 30s.
The weather service predicted a warming trend and little precipitation from Saturday through Monday. Highs were expected to be in the 40s Saturday and the 50s to low 60s by Monday. Lows during the period were expected to vary from the teens Saturday to the 20s Monday.
Highs in Kansas Wednesday ranged from 38 at Pittsburg to 18 at Goodland. Overnight lows varied from 10 at Goodland to 32 at Coffeyville.