Winter weather information
On the street
No. For snow partially and partially because I’m waiting for the main election.
For the second time in a week, the city is bracing for a near-shutdown, with eight to 10 inches of snow in the forecast for today and Kansas University and Lawrence schools closed by the wintry weather.
The storm may also hamper voting in the primary election for City Commission, in which voters will be choosing among 11 candidates. Lawrence officials said the vote would go on regardless of the weather. Many voters cast ballots in advance Sunday and Monday to avoid the storm.
As of late Monday evening, forecasts called for about eight to 10 inches of snow in the Lawrence area during the second massive winter storm to come through the area in a week’s time. The bulk of the snow is expected to fall by noon today.
All that snow, plus powerful winds, could make for perilous driving conditions this morning.
“The morning commute doesn’t look too good right now,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Gargan said, “with heavy snow and the blowing and drifting snow.”
Snow began falling in Lawrence in mid-afternoon Monday, increasing in intensity overnight. Between midnight and 9 a.m. today, it was expected to fall at rates of about a half-inch to one inch per hour.
The snow will combine with winds of 20 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts beyond 30. That will cause visibility of a quarter-mile or less, with temporary whiteout conditions possible at times.
Snowfall should taper off during the late morning, Gargan said, and end in the early afternoon. Another round of snow could tack another inch onto the total tonight and Wednesday morning.
On a statewide conference call Monday, Gov. Sam Brownback urged residents to simply stay home today if they can help it, echoing his advice during last week’s storm.
“That advice from last week might seem old, tired,” Brownback said, “but if you don’t have to travel, don’t.”
One key difference, though, between this week’s snowstorm and last week’s is that 24 counties across the state are set to hold local primary elections today, including the primary for Lawrence’s City Commission. Polls will be open until 7 p.m.
The snow will not stop the electoral process: State law prevents counties from changing the date of their elections. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach directed counties to extend their advance voting hours Monday until 7 p.m., and said anyone who is determined to vote today should be careful getting to the polls.
Lawrence officials said Monday they hope to have all polling places open.
State officials urged anyone who would be heading out on the road during the storm to check 511.ks.org for road condition updates from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
“These are some of the biggest snow events since we’ve been keeping records in the state of Kansas,” Brownback said of the two storms over the past few days.
Area school districts, including Lawrence, Eudora, Tonganoxie and Ottawa, have canceled classes for Tuesday. Kansas University also closed its campus for the third time this semester —the most full-day weather-related cancellations in a semester since at least 1972.
The city of Lawrence’s sidewalk snow ordinance, which allows for property owners to be fined if sidewalks aren’t cleared of snow within 48 hours after a snowfall, will not be enforced until after this week’s snowstorm, city spokeswoman Megan Gilliland said.
City crews were pre-treating streets during the day Monday, Gilliland said, continuing their 24-hour work since Wednesday of last week.
The snow storm and canceled classes, coinciding with Monday night’s KU men’s basketball game, was creating a party opportunity for some Lawrence residents. Tory Roberson, shift manager at On The Rocks, 1818 Massachusetts St., said the liquor store was doing at least twice its normal Monday business. Roberson estimated that one snow day provides On The Rocks with as much business as a football tailgating Saturday in October.
One customer at the store, KU Senior Nathan Lipsky, said he was stocking up. “It’s my third trip here since the first snow,” he said, toting six-packs of beer and hard cider and with his eye on a bottle of whiskey on his way to checkout. “I love snow days, more than anything,” he said.