Mother nature can be fickle. Saturday was a nice day to be outside, but that gave way Sunday to blizzard conditions, which crippled the state.
Then Monday, mother nature helped street crews as the sun appeared to work with the salt and melt the ice and snow left behind by Sunday’s storm.
“Mother nature helped a little bit,” Michael Haeffele, city of Ottawa public works director, said. “We can get all the salt and chat down you want, but if there is no sun, it is not going to melt. For that salt to work, it takes sun and heat. As vehicles drive up and down the street, they produce heat and that helps. The sun coming out and shining down is what makes a big difference.”
Haeffele said the two mixed together to help clear the city streets.
“For the most part, the main routes are pretty well cleared off,” Haeffele said Monday afternoon. “As much sun as we had today, the majority of it has melted off. People still might see some slick areas on the bridges and low-lying areas. The streets should stay clear from here on out.”
Thomas Winter, Franklin County Emergency Management assistant coordinator, said this storm had a different twist.
“What’s different about this storm — as opposed to other storms in the past — was that we only got about three inches of snow throughout the county, but there were sustained 35 mile-an-hour winds gusting up to 45 miles an hour,” he said. “The conditions were ripe for blowing snow and reduced visibility all the way across. We just had a two-inch snow not too long ago — it’s not a big deal when is just falling out of the sky — but when it’s blowing at 45 to 50 miles-an-hour, that’s when you get lines snapped, lose power, and roads get bad in a hurry.”
Winter said there were power outages throughout the county.
“KCP&L has been busy since [Sunday], and they are still out getting people back up as we speak,” Winter said Monday afternoon. “Conditions are improving. We might have some re-freezing again [Monday night] — the roadways might be a little wet from treatment.”
The winter storm packed a powerful punch. Gov. Jeff Colyer issued a State of Disaster Emergency declaration for the state.
“Here in Kansas we make it a priority to take care of our neighbors,” Colyer said Sunday. “Be mindful of all emergency response personnel out on Kansas roadways and give them space to do their jobs to ensure their safety and that of our citizens.”
The storm forced several closings, including all the local school districts Monday and businesses closed early Sunday. Several slideoffs and accidents were reported and bad road conditions forced the closing of portions of I-35 from Beto Junction to Emporia and on I-70 west of Topeka.
Haeffele said crews started pretreating the city streets with salt and chat at 10 a.m. Sunday and worked until midnight.
“We came back in [Monday] morning and got the trucks back out and started hitting it again,” he said. “The guys have been doing it long enough, they know what to expect. The first thing we are going to do is our main routes through town, which are going to be Main Street from one end to the other, Seventh Street, 15th Street, 17th Street, 23rd Street, Cedar and Ash. Then we go to our secondaries and start moving into the residential areas after that.”
(Herald Staff Writer John Jared Hawks contributed to the report)