The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 24, 2013

Midwest sees spring transform into winter weather

Impact minimal in Joplin area

From staff, AP reports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Few signs of spring were being found Sunday in parts of the Midwest as a snowstorm tracked eastward mostly along Interstate 70, bringing heavy snow and high winds.

Two people who were killed in weather-related crashes were identified, dozens of Palm Sunday services were canceled throughout Missouri, and about 100 flights were scrapped at Lambert Field in St. Louis. Winter storm warnings and advisories were issued for Sunday and today as far east as Pennsylvania.

The storm dumped 7 to 9 inches of snow from eastern Kansas into central Missouri before tapering off Sunday, said Dan Hawblitzel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in suburban Kansas City.

In Columbia, TV station KOMU was briefly evacuated Sunday morning because of high winds and a heavy buildup of snow on the broadcast tower next to the building. And Gov. Jay Nixon announced he was canceling a couple of events planned for today because of the weather.

The spring storm left 2 inches of snow in the Joplin area, along with freezing temperatures that will linger through today.

The National Weather Service in Springfield is calling for temperatures to hover near the freezing mark today, according to Andy Boxell, a meteorologist at the station.

“It is going to be cold, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some additional refreezing,” Boxell said in a phone interview Sunday.

“Winds will be high, but most of the main snow is gone from the area. The area might see an additional light dusting through Monday, but by and large, most accumulation will stay to the north.”

Joplin police Sgt. Jared Delzell said road conditions Sunday in the city did not require authorities to issue an emergency road condition alert.

“Traffic was light most of Sunday, and it looked like people stayed indoors,” Delzell said. “We did not have to go to emergency road conditions because we were not overwhelmed with calls. We encouraged people to stay indoors, and it looks like residents took that to heart.”

Missouri Department of Transportation crews planned to work around the clock to prevent refreezing, according to Kristi Bachman, a maintenance engineer with MoDOT.

“Crews will continue to treat as necessary,” Bachman said Sunday. “All roads are listed as wet now but are clear. We do have concerns of refreezing and blowing snow through Monday. Even though roads look clear, we want motorists to remain cautious.”

In Kansas City, there was no cause for college basketball fans to be concerned, as the snow didn’t affect the NCAA men’s tournament schedule.

“The snow is not an issue,” said Wynn Butler, 62, of Manhattan, Kan., who was in town with his daughter, a University of Kansas graduate, to watch her alma mater take on North Carolina.

He said his car was in a parking garage, and he could walk from his hotel to the Sprint Center. Butler also figured the roads would be clear before he and his daughter left after Sunday’s game.

“We are right in between the bad weather,” he said.

Authorities on Sunday released the names of two people who were killed in separate crashes. In northeast Kansas, Anthony J. Hinthorne, 40, of Topeka, was killed Saturday afternoon in a single-vehicle crash and rollover on the Kansas Turnpike as snow was falling in Shawnee County, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. Later that night, Joshua J. French, 24, of Naperville, Ill., was killed when he lost control of his vehicle on a wet stretch of Interstate 35 in eastern Missouri’s Clay County.

By early Sunday evening, St. Louis had about a foot of snow and northern suburbs had from 12 to 14 inches, with an additional 1 to 2 inches expected, said Jim Sieveking, a meteorologist in St. Louis.

“The snow intensity is pretty heavy, so the visibility is low,” said Todd Waelterman, director of the St. Louis Streets Department. “So we’ve asked people to stay off the road and let our plows do their job. And people seem to be heeding that warning.”

Some parts of central Illinois had received 6 to 10 inches by Sunday evening, Sieveking said. The storm also was brushing northern Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Snow began falling Sunday afternoon in Indiana, with accumulations of 6 to 10 inches predicted. The system was projected to move into Ohio on Sunday night, bringing between 5 to 9 inches, the weather service said.

The storm was expected to weaken as it moved into Pennsylvania late Sunday, with totals ranging from 3 to 8 inches. Before it exits off the coast of New Jersey tonight, the storm could leave 2 to 4 inches in that state as well as Delaware, northern Maryland and southern New York.

“It’s definitely a wide-hitting system,” Hawblitzel said.

To the west, parts of Colorado and northwest Kansas spent Sunday digging out from 10 to 15 inches of snow that were dumped there Saturday. Southwestern Nebraska got up to 7 inches. Winds gusting up to 45 mph created snow drifts of 2 to 3 feet in the three states, said Ryan Husted, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Goodland, Kan.

“We have pretty much cleared out. Sunny skies. It’s starting to melt a little bit,” Husted said Sunday. Transportation officials reopened several closed highways, including a stretch of Interstate 70 from Denver to Colby, Kan.