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Archive for Tuesday, July 5, 1994

TIPS FOR FOUL-WEATHER TRAVELERS

July 5, 1994

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A Kansas Turnpike Authority brochure gives advice to motorists who find themselves on the road when bad weather hits.

You're heading down the Kansas Turnpike, and the sky is growing darker and darker as storm clouds descend like an inky curtain and lightning tears jagged edges in the sky.

Suddenly, up ahead, you see a whirling cone drop from the dark cloud bank and touch the ground.

If you're a Kansan, figuring out what to do next is second nature. Out-of-state motorists, however, may need a little help.

So the Kansas Turnpike Authority created a severe weather information booklet, based on a suggestion from Lawrence toll collector Chris Scafe. KTA printed about 12,000 copies of the brochure, which is available at toll plazas and by mail.

Scafe was working at the West Lawrence interchange on a busy Friday afternoon last summer, handing out toll tickets under threatening skies -- "a day when it looked like one could drop out of the sky at any time" -- when a woman drove up in a car with California plates.

"She said, 'What am I supposed to do if I see a tornado?'" he recalled. "She said something about being used to earthquakes and fires, but she didn't know what to do with a tornado.

"I told her to get in a ditch or a shelter, anything, but get out of the car. But she wasn't satisfied."

Scafe, a six-year KTA employee, said he started thinking about how he could have answered the motorist's questions without causing a traffic jam.

"I thought, what we really need is something we can hand out to customers," he said.

The result is a one-page brochure, with a color photo of black storm clouds and a tornado on the cover. The brochure contains advice about what to do if a tornado is sighted on the highway or in a service area or toll plaza.

Some of the advice seems obvious: be watchful in threatening weather and tune to a local radio station for weather updates.

But the brochure also advises that service station restrooms at rest areas are built for use as severe weather shelters, and that all KTA interchanges have an in-ground storm shelter or tunnel for protection. The brochure also lists the KTA travel advisory radio station frequencies in Wichita, Emporia and Topeka.

The brochure is given to any motorist who expresses some apprehension about the weather, said Bob Flowers, a turnpike supervisor.

"This is a good idea," he said. "Everyone will benefit by it."

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