Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Storm ices Midwest

Accidents, damages are relatively light

Icicles dangle amidst an ice storm on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 in Lawrence, Kan.

Icicles dangle amidst an ice storm on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007 in Lawrence, Kan.

December 12, 2007


Icy weather causes cancelations

This morning Lawrence residents woke up to cars coated in ice and tree limbs on the ground - and it's not over yet. 6News reporter Lindsey Slater has more on the efforts to defrost the city before another round of winter weather comes through. Enlarge video

Tips to avoid ice injuries

As temperatures fall tonight, there's the chance a slick surface will soon start to cover your walkway - if it hasn't already. Enlarge video

Matt Elwell's weather forecast

View Matt Elwell's 5:30 a.m. weather forecast. Enlarge video

Reader poll
What's the worst thing about winter?

or See the results without voting

On the street

Do you think Lawrence will be hit or spared by the icy weather?

I think every student is hoping we get hit, but I really don’t think we will. I’ll definitely be studying for my finals either way.

More responses

Lawrence got lucky.

The storm that knocked out power for thousands of Kansans and spurred Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday to declare a state of emergency for all counties passed through the city without the mayhem that many had braced for.

"I think it was a minimal storm compared to what it could have been," said Jennifer Schack, 6News meteorologist.

The nearby school districts of Baldwin City, Eudora, Tonganoxie, McLouth, Oskaloosa, Basehor-Linwood and Perry-Lecompton canceled classes today, the second day in a row.

Lawrence public schools are in session today. Lawrence School Superintendent Randy Weseman informed the Journal-World of the decision to hold classes on Wednesday just after 5 a.m.

"We have driven all the bus routes, and all the parking lots and sidewalks have been treated so we are in really good shape," Weseman said.

The number of Westar Energy customers in Douglas County without electricity at 10 p.m. Tuesday was 2,800, a spike following an afternoon in which the number had been steadily declining to fewer than 200. Dispatchers said there were reports of outages Tuesday night between Sixth and Ninth streets and Iowa and Mississippi streets.

Schack on Tuesday evening said an expected drop in the overnight temperature to 21 degrees would freeze untreated wet spots and could cause black ice in some areas today. She said a potential for power outages remained.

But Lawrence appeared to have fared better than other areas where high numbers of power outages were reported and the layer of ice was thicker.

Schack estimated the freezing rains left a layer of ice between 2/10 and 1/4 of an inch thick in Douglas County.

"A quarter of an inch is obviously enough to bring down some power lines and cause some road problems," Schack said, "but the roads were mainly wet for this, and that's really the best-case scenario we could have asked for."

Many trees damaged

Many Lawrence residents woke up Tuesday morning to the crashing sounds of ice-covered trees and limbs.

Joshua and Michelle Smith awoke from sleep when a tree fell against their front window and door at 3013 Bainbridge Circle in west-central Lawrence.

"Surprisingly it didn't break anything," Michelle Smith said.

Only 30 minutes later, the other half of the tree fell toward the street, blocking off one of the couple's cars. A second car had already been moved next door.

"It looks kind of a like a tornado hit," Michelle Smith said.

Bob Szrot got his wake-up call about 4 a.m. when a large tree limb fell on his house at 1515 Cadet Ave. in east Lawrence. The limb tore out the power line.

"Right now we have a tree service in here and they've been kind enough to come in this morning in the horrible weather to get things cut down," Szrot said later Tuesday morning.

The storm's aftermath kept tree services busy clearing yards and driveways as well as roofs.

"Oh, yes, we're swamped," said Newton Mulford, owner of Mulford's Tree Service. "It gets pretty sloppy. Everything's covered with ice; it gets slippery. Just hard to handle."

Power problems

The ice alone caused many power lines to falter. Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical were kept busy checking sparking or downed power lines throughout Tuesday morning.

A power line's ability to withstand the weight of ice depends on its age and size, Westar spokesman Nick Bundy said. Lines are built to standards but the standards may vary depending on the age of the line.

"Certainly we're concerned when any amount of ice is hanging from them," Bundy said Tuesday. "We've been lucky. It has not been windy. If the winds were to pick up that would not be good."

Lawrence police received few reports of traffic accidents. "The streets are wet but not icy," police spokesman Kim Murphree said about noon Tuesday.

Temperatures hovered around the freezing mark throughout Tuesday afternoon. Lawrence street crews have been on standby since the weekend and likely did more work treating the roads from the weekend weather than they have been for the freezing rain since, said Chuck Soules, city public works director.

"I'm assuming ... as it gets colder, more of this will freeze and our guys will be out there doing what they can to make sure we have safe streets," he said Tuesday afternoon.

Street crews are working 12-hour shifts, Soules said.

Area fares well

Concern about the ice storm led the Douglas County chapter of the American Red Cross on Monday to make preparations to open shelters at locations in Lawrence, Eudora and Baldwin City, executive director Jane Blocher said. The shelters were not needed, she said Tuesday.

"I think most people were prepared," she said.

Baldwin Fire Chief Allen Craig said the weather caused no problems, except for one incident about 6 p.m. Tuesday when an elderly man became trapped on a ladder by a tree limb while trimming icy limbs in the 800 block of Dearborn Street.

"One of the limbs that he cut basically fell on the ladder and pinned his back to the ladder," Craig said. "He couldn't go up and he couldn't go down."

Craig said the man was assisted and not injured.

Scattered power outages also were reported in neighboring Jefferson and Leavenworth counties, officials there said.

In Tonganoxie, streets and power lines throughout the city showed off a coating of ice from the precipitation, but for the most part they were free of ice during the daylight hours.

"We dodged a bullet, I guess, at least for now," Tonganoxie Mayor Mike Vestal said early Tuesday afternoon as a soaking - not freezing rain as had been forecast - continued to fall.

- 6News Reporter Lindsay Slater and John Taylor, editor of The Mirror, Lansing Current, and Basehor Sentinel contributed to this report.


Jerry Stubbs 10 years, 4 months ago

In Japan they have developed heating systems that use a small Honda generator connected to the natural gas line which can supply heat and electricity at the same time. Less CO2, less long distance power line losses, and of course no disruption during ice storms. Why can't Walmart sell something like that?

hornhunter 10 years, 4 months ago

My guess would be that Wal- Mart does not want to be held responsible for the dumb a@@ that either get electricuted or blown up

Erin Parmelee 10 years, 4 months ago

Pink_Sock (Anonymous) says:

Most midwestern folk aren't bright enough to put that stuff outside of their houses. Some dumb@$$ will put it indoors and kill themselves w/ the carbon monoxide.

Happens more than you think! And of course people don't actually take responsibility for being morons. Instead they sue the manufacturer for making such a "dangerous" piece of equipment in the first place!

Jerry Stubbs 10 years, 4 months ago

Actually I don't think natural gas contains carbon, or very much carbon. On the other hand burning charcoal briquets ( or coal) would of course release lots of poisonious CO

Jerry Stubbs 10 years, 4 months ago

Many people in fact have stoves that burn natural gas on the burners and in the oven and even without though the stove has no outdoor vent people aren't poisoned.

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