At least a half-inch of ice in the McPherson area contributed to tree damages and power outages Wednesday.
Dillard Webster, McPherson County Emergency Management director, said temperatures dropped 20 degrees in one hour Tuesday. Warm and cold fronts then converged, leaving trails of ice throughout the area. The cold weather prevented the possibility of tornadoes.
“This was one of the most freaky turn of events,” he said, citing rain, thunder, lighting, ice and drizzle in less than 24 hours. “We had everything from summer to winter. It doesn’t happen very often. I haven’t seen it to this degree in many years.”
Webster said each city in McPherson County had power outages Tuesday or Wednesday. Canton was out of power Tuesday night, but school was not delayed Wednesday.
Elyria Christian School, however, cancelled classes Wednesday due to no power in the morning. Power was returned later in the day.
No disaster shelters were opened.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Webster reported minor slide-offs from Interstate 135 and Kansas Highway 61, but no road injuries. This was due to sunny weather earlier in the week that kept the roads warm.
Nick Gregory, McPherson city administrator, said workers spent Wednesday removing fallen tree limbs from roadways. By the late afternoon, workers had accumulated three dump truck loads.
The McPherson Park Department had filled about four to five trailer loads from city parks.
“It’s tough when you lose mature trees,” Gregory said. “Those are very difficult things to get back.”
Fallen limbs on personal properties will remain the responsibility of individuals, although the city encourages residents to refrain from standing under trees or addressing debris until the ice melts, as limbs continue to be a safety hazard.
“If we have enough wind, we’re probably going to see more breakage,” he said. “We’re anticipating for it to get worse still, as long as we continue to get moisture.”
John Hawk, general manager of McPherson Solid Waste Utility, said about 20 vehicles came through the station by late Wednesday afternoon, but he expects 600 during the next week or two.
The utility has extended its operating hours to accept tree branches, and is open until 7 p.m. today; from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through April 12. This will not alter the utility’s normal hours for trash and recyclables.
The utility will not be offering curbside pickup of limbs.
The National Weather Service does not predict more snow for McPherson within the next several days, and temperatures should reach as high as 72 degrees Sunday.
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