Moderate to heavy snow and blizzard-like conditions are possible with a winter storm system this weekend in most of Kansas.
The Kansas National Guard is one of the agencies getting geared up to help Kansans through the winter weather safely.
The Pratt National Guard Armory is one of many armories across Kansas that will become home to several soldiers for at least the next 24 hours. 14 soldiers will be stationed at the Pratt National Guard Armory.
Staff Sergeant Andrew Hughes says the National Guard has been called to duty to help local law enforcement with rescuing motorists stranded by heavy snow or ice.
“And get them to warming stations things like that or for emergency personnel such as doctors making sure they can get to the hospital and perform their duties as well,” Staff Sergeant Hughes said.
The response teams will use Humvees when out on rescue missions. They’ll have four available to put to use Saturday during the winter weather.
“We’ll have soldiers in here,” said Staff Sergeant Hughes while opening the door to one of the Humvees. “[We’ll] drive along the roads making sure that they’re safe. Lucky, they do have heaters and things like that so they can stay warm while out responding.”
The soldiers will report to the armory Friday night to prepare for the expected blizzard conditions and any emergencies that may come.
“We’ll get everything together make sure we maintanence our equipment maintenance ourselves and then be ready to go tonight,” explained Staff Sergeant Andrew Hughes, Kansas National Guard.
Staff Sergeant Hughes said they will be on standby until weather conditions improve and they are released from duty.
The Storm Tracker 3 Weather Team said the system will begin to affect western Kansas tonight and spread eastward across the state through tomorrow. Widespread heavy snow coupled with high wind gusts will cause blowing snow throughout the day on Saturday, hindering travel conditions due to limited visibilities.
Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a declaration of disaster emergency to expedite use of state resources and personnel to assist with response and recovery operations in affected counties if needed.
“Due to upcoming severe winter weather, I’ve declared a disaster emergency to make sure state assistance is readily available if needed,” said Kelly. “I encourage all Kansans to stay warm and safe during the snow storm in the coming days. Avoid travel if possible and keep an eye on the weather forecast as the storm moves and develops.”
The Kansas Division of Emergency Management will activate the state emergency operations center on Saturday at 7 a.m. through midnight, with additional staffing, if needed, into Sunday. Agencies in the SEOC will include the Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Highway Patrol, and Kansas National Guard. Additional support agencies will be contacted as needed.
The Kansas National Guard will activate and preposition 13 Stranded Motorist Assistance Response Teams to assist local public safety agencies reach stranded motorists if local resource capabilities are exceeded. Each team will consist of four Guardsmen and two High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles.
Kansans are urged to change or delay their travel plans until the storm moves through. If you must travel, be sure your car’s gas tank is full and you have an emergency kit. Vehicle emergency kits should include blankets, flashlights, batteries, a cell phone charger, hand-warmers, high-energy food snacks, bottled water, necessary medications, a snow shovel, flares and other emergency supplies. Make sure your cell phone is charged and someone is aware of your itinerary, including expected time of arrival.
On the road, remember the following:
- Allow extra time for delays and slower traffic speeds.
- Buckle up and properly secure children in safety seats.
- Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you. Ice and snow significantly increase your stopping distance.
- Accelerate and brake gently. A light foot on the gas is less likely to make wheels spin on ice and snow. Braking is best accomplished by pumping the pedal. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, it is very important that you understand how to use it. Read the owner’s manual or check with a dealership for more information, and practice using it correctly.
- Make turns slowly and gradually, especially in heavily traveled areas (e.g. intersections that may be icy from snow that melted and refroze).
- Visibility is very important. You must be able to see out, and other drivers must be able to see your vehicle. Clean frost and snow off all windows, mirrors, and lights. Use headlights as necessary.
- If your car loses traction and begins to slide, steer into the swerve, or in the direction you want to go. Anticipate a second skid in the opposite direction as the car straightens out.