Roads, sidewalks ‘treacherous’ as ice glazes Douglas County and surrounding area
photo by: City of Lawrence
Story updated 5:37 p.m. Wednesday
Authorities warned drivers to stay off the roads Wednesday, if possible, or if not, to use caution navigating icy conditions.
Freezing drizzle falling over northeast Kansas Wednesday morning was expected to continue into early Thursday morning, causing “treacherous” driving — and even walking — conditions, said meteorologist Shawn Byrne of the National Weather Service in Topeka.
“Freezing drizzle is pretty bad stuff,” Byrne said. “It’s so unassuming … it doesn’t look like there’s anything on the road until you hit the brakes.”
The weather service on Wednesday afternoon issued an ice storm warning for Douglas County until noon Thursday, warning of possible ice accumulation of a tenth of an inch to four-tenths of an inch.
The Lawrence Police Department had responded to 19 accidents by late afternoon Wednesday, none with serious injuries, Officer Derrick Smith said. He added that four of those accidents happened around 10 a.m. in the 1700 block of Birdie Way, located at the north edge of the Jayhawk Club property.
In one hour mid-Wednesday morning, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to four weather-related accidents plus a couple slide-offs, though problems tapered off in the afternoon, Sgt. Kristen Channel said. She said no one was injured in those accidents.
The ice was a challenge for road crews, too.
“Crews are working to keep up with the freezing mist this morning,” the Kansas Department of Transportation in northeast Kansas said in a social media post. “Ramps and overpasses are icing as fast as treatment can be applied due to the temp and moisture.”
The KDOT message added, “Slowing down and allowing more time is crucial!”
Shortly after noon Wednesday, the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University both canceled classes for the rest of the day.
Bus service on KU’s campus was scheduled to stop around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the university announced. Lawrence Transit Administrator Bob Nugent said that generally routes 27-44, which serve KU, will cease operating completely at that time, and route 29 will operate at a reduced level of service. Nugent said that city routes 1-15 will be operating as normal, with the exception of routes 10 and 11, which will bypass their campus stops. He said if conditions worsen, the city may reduce bus service.
Freezing drizzle will continue with varying intensity into Wednesday evening, Byrne said. Another round of precipitation — possibly heavier, with freezing rain and sleet — is predicted overnight, primarily between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Precipitation should stop Thursday morning, but cold temperatures will persist through Friday.
The temperature in Lawrence was 23 degrees late Wednesday morning, according to the weather service. Wednesday’s high was predicted to reach 27 degrees.
The high temperature for Thursday was predicted to be 18 degrees, and overnight lows Thursday and Friday will be in the single digits.