The city woke under a five-inch blanket of snow this morning, and the winter's first major storm here has road crews busy kicking the cover from streets and highways.
Jim Dudley, a forecaster for the Kansas University Weather Service, said snow will be falling in spurts today, and he expected only light snow tonight.
In all, he said, about two more inches could fall by Sunday for a total accumulation of about seven inches.
"It looks like most of it is over," he said.
Snow continued falling here this morning, and Dudley measured five inches of accumulation at 7 a.m. In comparison, the National Weather Service reported that overnight, Topeka got nine inches and Manhattan got four. The service has issued a winter storm warning today for northeast Kansas.
ROAD CREWS cranked up the snow plows and have been shoving snow from Lawrence streets and Douglas County roads since about midnight.
Tom Orzulak, Lawrence street maintenance manager, said city crews will clear main routes this morning and will move into the neighborhoods later today.
Frank B. Hempen Jr., Douglas County Public Works director, said this morning that all county highways were open. He said they had been plowed close to the pavement, and only a light snow pack remained.
"The plan now is to get plows out at noontime or after lunch when we expect another wave of snow," Hempen said.
He warned that even after the streets have been plowed and sanded, drivers should drive slower than posted limits to avoid accidents.
A representative of the Kansas Highway Department said that Kansas Highway 10, U.S. Highway 59 and U.S. Highway 40 to Topeka all have a layer of snow on them. Speaking at mid-morning, he said all those highways are passable. He said crews will continue to work today to clear the highways.
THE ENTIRE Kansas Turnpike is passable, according to the Kansas Turnpike Authority. It has a thin layer of snow packed on its surface and a few icy spots. The authority reported blowing snow and drifting as well. Crews will continue to plow until the roads are clear.
By 8 a.m., only one accident had been reported on Lawrence streets, county roads or highways. A dispatcher for the Lawrence Police Department said a car struck a telephone pole in the 900 block of East 23rd Street. No injuries were reported.
Public utilities, including water, gas and electric, reported no outages from the weather, and officials are keeping their fingers crossed, hoping things stay that way.
An emergency service operator for Kansas Public Service said when roads become treacherous, cars can slide into utility poles, knocking out power.
"No one is out, so we haven't had any problems," she said.
A representative from Lawrence public schools said the district will decide whether schools will be closed by 6 a.m. Monday. Parents or students may call the Journal-World Access Line Monday morning for a complete list of closings. The number is 865-5000, category 5001.
The human heart is no match for the huge engines that drive snowplows.
Dr. Pam McVey of the Kansas University Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., said snowy, cold weather can be a threat to the heart. "The cold is harder on the lungs and makes the heart work harder," she said.
Shoveling snow compounds the cold's stress on the cardiovascular system because it requires upper body strain, she said.
She said snow usually means a busy emergency room filled with sufferers of heart pain and people who fall and break bones.