Record-breaking bitter cold closed area schools, made driving difficult and chased the city's homeless indoors Monday.
With today's forecast looking no better than Monday's, Lawrence public school district officials decided to call off classes today, the second day in a row.
"We've still got a lot of icy areas out there. It's looking like it will be colder than it was today," Julie Boyle, the district's director of communications, said Monday evening in announcing today's closings.
Subfreezing temperatures, along with a dusting of snow and ice, caused a number of minor accidents along area streets and highways, but no serious injuries were reported in the Lawrence area.
Steve Kays, a staff meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the cold temperatures were nearly unprecedented, even for mid-December. The wind chill, he said, reached 30 below zero.
"It looks like we should be close to a record," Kays said.
He said today could be the same.
Another round of light snow should hit Lawrence tonight, he said. Wednesday, it will warm to about 25, and temperatures should "modify" back into the 30s and 40s by week's end, he said.
That's little comfort to the city's homeless. Tami Clark, coordinator for the Drop-In Center, 214 W. 10th St., said her first client Monday was a homeless man in a light jacket and no gloves.
"I opened a half-hour early to let him in," she said. "I couldn't let him stand out there like that."
Other agencies were helping, as well. A Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center official was on the streets trying to help homeless residents find warm places to stay. The Salvation Army had extra volunteers to keep its shelter open around-the-clock instead of closing during the day.
Kansas University classes went on as usual, but the Lawrence public school district and most others in the area closed for the day.
It was the first time in several years Lawrence schools closed for winter weather.
"The wind chill conditions present today created a dangerous situation for our students," Supt. Randy Weseman said.
He said many of the district's 10,300 students would have walked to school or waited outside in frigid conditions for a bus.
"We have a lot of kids showing up for school without mittens, hats and boots that keep your skin from being exposed."
Lost instruction time will be made up later in the year, he said.
Following Monday morning rush, the Kansas Highway Patrol and area law enforcement agencies reported numerous accidents but no serious injuries in the Lawrence area. Most were fender benders or vehicles sliding into ditches, dispatchers said.
In town, Lawrence Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick said, police took up to 70 accident reports during the day.
Tom Orzulak, the city's street division superintendent, said two 15-man crews had been rotating 12-hour shifts since 6 p.m. Sunday, laying down salt and sand to give cars traction on the streets.
"We've done every street in town at least twice," he said late Monday morning. "All 375 miles of them."
Orzulak said crews would continue working until the streets were clear.
"The problem with this cold weather is there isn't melt," he said. "And if there is melt, it refreezes."
Staff writers Mike Belt, Tim Carpenter, Tom Meagher and Joel Mathis contributed to this report.