Archive for Wednesday, February 23, 1994

SNOW LEAVES MARK ON AREA

February 23, 1994

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Lawrence was spared from the brunt of a storm that left snow blanketing much of Kansas and Missouri.

The snow left Ernie Eck unimpressed.

A one-time resident of a mountain town in Colorado, Eck knows about winter and snowfalls that would drop a white mat a foot thick. Overnight here, the Kansas University Weather Service measured 1.5 inches.

"It always amazes me the difficult time people have with snow here," said Eck, a realty agent who moved here in 1983.

By late morning, people had evaded serious problems on area roads and highways, police and highway patrol dispatchers said. But many fenders were bent on city streets, Kansas Highway 10 and U.S. Highway 40, authorities said.

City and county road crews mobilized Tuesday evening as a winter storm appeared headed for the area. The worst of it missed Lawrence.

"Every day we miss a snowstorm, we're closer to spring," said George Williams, the city's public works director.

Because the snow was light, crews used melting salts rather than plows, he said. Plowing requires a depth of at least four inches.

Roger Dressler, transportation supervisor with Baldwin public schools, was up at 4:30 a.m. brushing snow off of buses and scraping windows.

"Most of the roads were snow-covered but not very slick," he said.

Jeff Jerome, one of four snow operation managers for Douglas County, said county roads should be clear but wet by this evening.

Jerome's prognosis depends on whether the weather goes as predicted.

"The worst is over," Cliff Ronk, KU weather forecaster, said this morning. "Things are going to lighten up quite a bit."

Another 1 to 3 inches of snow could fall by midnight, when cloud cover and flurries should diminish, he said.

Because Thursday's high should linger just above freezing, at 34, Ronk said, precipitation could be rain, freezing rain or snow.

Wheat farmers may have been some of the only Kansans happy to see the snow.

Snow insulates young wheat from cold temperatures. The wheat crop had started to come out of dormancy because of recent warm temperatures, making it more susceptible to freeze damage, said Tom Maxwell, agricultural agent for Saline County.

And after a dry January, the moisture from the snow also will help, he said.

Bitter cold will try to creep under blankets tonight and Thursday. Lows between 10 and 12 degrees are expected.

The reaction of northeastern Kansans to cold also baffled Eck, who lifted his pant cuff to show that he had on his long johns.

He sees people wearing unzipped coats and flimsy shoes, and they're the ones who often complain about winter the most, he said.

"Who cares if you look a little lumpy," he asked, incredulous. "People just refuse to say, `Well, it's winter, we'll forget about fashion.' ... If you dress for winter, winter isn't a bad season."

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