McPherson County was hit with an unexpected nine to 12 inches of snow Tuesday, causing visibility problems for motorists and large snowdrifts across city and county roads.
Originally, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Wichita forecasted one to four inches of snow Tuesday. However, that forecast was revised midday, as the storm system began to dump dry, light snow across the state.
"We could easily see eight to 11 inches. Some isolated areas will reach up to 12 inches," said NWS Meteorologist Chance Hayes. "This is a dramatic increase in the amount of snow across the area."
McPherson city officials have upgraded the city’s response to the blizzard like conditions, and will begin plowing residential streets after taking care of the city’s main routes.
“We’re trying to keep up (with the snow),” said McPherson Public Works Director Doug Whitacre, adding that he hopes his crews can clear the main streets by midnight, and start on residential streets around 7 to 8 a.m. Wednesday.
“I don’t know how long it will take to clear it all out,” Whitacre said. “It’s going to be tough. We’ll do whatever we need to do. It’s our number one priority”
Earlier, the city began pulling other personnel to keep up with the storm.
"We have all our crews out now, and we're looking at pulling personnel where we can from other departments," said McPherson City Administrator Nick Gregory.
County road crews are also hard at work.
“So far, so good,” said County Public Works Director Tom Kramer. “Other than mechanical situations, everything is working good.”
McPherson County Emergency Services Director Dillard Webster said his office is monitoring the situation.
“We’re watching really close,” Webster said. “We weren’t expecting the extra four to six inches of snow. However, it’s a dry snow. The winds are going to be our biggest problem. It’s not packed down, so it’s more of a visibility problem.”
Webster said that Kansas Department of Transportation crews are keeping the highways clear and no major accidents have been reported in the county so far.
“For now, we’re all feeling pretty secure, but we haven’t stopped holding our breath,” Webster said.
City and county officials are strongly urging residents to stay off the roads, and not make any trips unless it is absolutely necessary.
“If people don’t have to go out, don’t go out,” Gregory said.