Freezing drizzle that glazed Lawrence streets overnight set the stage for a continuing run of winter weather that's closed some schools and made driving a risky business.
Weather forecasters say chilly temperatures and precipitation will continue through Friday because of cold arctic air masses that continue to flow into the area.
Phillip Bills, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Topeka, said warm, moist air above the cold masses is to blame for recent snow, freezing rain and fog.
"We've been in this pattern since mid-December," he said, adding that a new pattern is expected to develop by early next week raising temperatures into the low 40s.
Bills said Lawrence temperatures are expected to fall to about 15 tonight and reach a high of around 30 on Wednesday. He predicted more precipitation Wednesday night and Thursday.
Bills said forecasters hadn't anticipated the extent of Monday night's precipitation.
"THE FREEZING drizzle was the worst part of it," he said. "It doesn't take too much freezing precipitation to make the roads slick. Lawrence got about a hundredth (of an inch), and that's enough to make for dangerous roads."
Nobody knows that better than local law enforcement officials and ambulance crews, who responded to more than 30 accidents Monday and early today.
Lawrence police reported 24 accidents between 7 a.m. Monday and 7 a.m. today. Injuries were reported in two of those accidents.
Rae Toyne, 29, 3323 Iowa, was treated and released from Lawrence Memorial Hospital after a three-car accident at 4:10 p.m. Monday at 27th and Haskell. Police reported that Toyne was southbound on Haskell and had stopped near the intersection when the car was struck from the rear by a pickup truck driven by Carole D. Osif, 28, Scottsdale, Ariz. The collision pushed Toyne's car into the northbound lane, where it was struck by a car driven by Marlin G. Hill, 57, Independence, Mo.
Osif was cited for following too closely.
THE CITY'S other injury accident occurred at 4:34 p.m. Monday, when a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer driven west on 23rd Street by Mary L. Sanchez, 46, 1503 E. 18th, was struck on the side by another westbound car that was changing lanes. A passenger in the car that struck the Blazer, Donna L. Grafing, 20, 2142 W. 26th, was treated and released from LMH. The driver of the car, Mark A. Grafing, 25, 2142 W. 26th, was cited for inattentive driving.
This morning, a weather-related accident led police to close North Iowa near Peterson Road. Police Lt. Mark Brothers said a tractor-trailer rig loaded with paper rolls slid off North Iowa about 9:15 a.m.
Brothers said workers would have to unload the rolls and lift the truck back onto the road. He expected the process to take several hours and said the road would be closed until the truck was removed.
The accident was one of several reported in Lawrence after 7 a.m. today. Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin said that because so many minor wrecks occurred after 7 a.m. this morning, police were advising people involved in non-injury accidents to go to the police department to make accident reports.
SHERIFF'S OFFICERS reported six accidents Monday and early today.
Kimberly J. Herl, 21, was treated and released from LMH after a one-car accident at 1:30 a.m. today about a mile east of Eudora on County Road 442. Officers reported that Herl was eastbound on 442 when she lost control on the ice and skidded off the road. She was cited for driving with a suspended license.
At 2 a.m., David L. Dye, 35, Bartlesville, Okla., saw Herl's car and stopped his tractor-trailer rig. After he got out of the rig to help Herl, a car driven by Donald M. Baise, 20, 101 N. Mich., struck the rear of the rig. A passenger in Baise's car, Tina M. Courter, 18, 101 N. Mich., was treated at LMH and released. No citations were issued.
While authorities were responding to accidents, city and county road crews worked through the night to keep streets safe.
George Williams, Lawrence public works director, said most city roads are in good condition. However, he said motorists shouldn't be overconfident.
"This is a prime time to exercise defensive driving," he said. "Leave enough space between you and the next car so you don't have to stop too quickly. Exercise good judgment."
JOHN YOUNG, deputy director of the Douglas County public works department, said that as of 8 a.m. today all paved county roads were free of ice. The county had expected to clear rock roads by Monday afternoon, but the ice was more stubborn than expected, he said.
Hazardous road conditions meant a second day off school for Baldwin, Eudora and Wellsville youngsters, as district officials decided not to risk having students travel on slick roads.
A Kansas University police dispatcher said this morning that slippery roads and fog prevailed on Mount Oread, but no major accidents had been reported.
A Jefferson County sheriff's dispatcher said most roads were clear, while Franklin and Leavenworth County sheriff's dispatchers described county roads as icy and slick.