KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Strong winds and blowing snow are causing dangerous travel across the Kansas City metro Thursday.
Kansas City interstates were passable early Thursday morning, but that began to change around 6 a.m. as the winter weather moved into the city.
Road crews spent hours pretreating roads and highways overnight, but transportation officials warn overpasses, bridges and hills are still particularly slick.
Jack-knifed semitrailers caused wrecks and back-ups on Highway 291 in Clay County, Missouri, and on K-10 in Douglas County, Kansas. Both crashes have since been cleared.
“We encourage you to look into the weather conditions and the road conditions before you head out to your holiday travels in different parts of the state they are experiencing the same challenges and we just want to make sure folks are aware of the situation that they are driving in to,” Delaney Tholen, KDOT Public Affairs Manager, said.
The Missouri Department of Transportation tweeted out a picture around 11:30 a.m. of I-35 northbound being closed near 291 Highway.
“I think folks forget that it may look OK, but there are still going to be isolated areas where you might hit an icy patch. No matter how much we are out there so you just have to take it slow and give yourself lots of room between yourself and those in front of you,” Melissa Black, MoDOT Communications Manager, said.
FOX4 spotted two vehicles who had flipped onto their side right next to Liberty Hospital shortly after the tweet. One of the drivers of the cars flipped over earlier in the day. The other incident had just happened.
“He probably may have gotten a little loose in the ice, and these big vans are top heavy, so it flipped over,” Lighting Tow and Recovery owner Rodney Wilborn said out in the cold about to tow away those vehicles. “It wasn’t a hard roll, but it happens.”
Wilborn also helped out a box truck driver who told FOX4 off camera his vehicle turned onto its side, and he was stuck in it until two people came in and helped get him out.
“Kansas City’s good about that,” Wilborn said. “We’ve got a lot of good people here that will stop and help.”
Wilborn thinks he will probably be working a full 24-hour shift, not getting off work until 5 a.m. Friday.
“The roads are a lot worse than they look like they are,” he continued. “It’s going to get worse and worse as the day goes on. When the sun goes down, it’s going to be a skating rink.”
The Missouri State Highway Patrol said in the KC area alone troopers responded to 258 calls for service from midnight to 2 p.m. Thursday; 52 occurred in one hour. Fifty of the 258 were noninjury crashes.
The Kansas Highway Patrol said there were 23 noninjury crashes in the KC area during that same timeframe.
At 3:30 p.m. Thursday, a spokeswoman for the Kansas City Police Department said they’d responded to 113 crashes since 12 a.m. Thursday.
Multiple agencies on both sides of the state line are asking people to just stay home Thursday.
But if you have to drive, check out these traveler maps to get a better idea of road conditions in your area:
Check out FOX4’s interactive traffic map to view travel speeds, traffic volume and traffic cameras in the Kansas City metro area.
If you want to see more live cameras, travel speeds and any wrecks in the immediate Kansas City metro, visit the KC Scout website.
MoDOT Traveler Map
If you’re heading outside of the KC area, view the latest traffic conditions throughout Missouri using the MoDOT Traveler Map.
The interactive map shows whether interstates and highways are clear, partly covered or covered in ice and snow. It also shows incident closures and where to expect construction zone slow downs.
“Overall, we’re not doing as badly as we thought,” MoDOT spokeswoman Melissa Black said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday.
Black said there are still slick spots on the interstates and highways.
“Of course, it’s due to the snow coming down and some of the wind blowing that snow and of course the really cold temps out there that are causing some icy patches,” she continued.
KDOT KanDrive Map/Kansas Turnpike
Like its neighbor to the east, the Kansas Department of Transpiration offers the interactive KanDrive map, which has many of the same features as the MoDOT Traveler Map. You can also find information and an interactive map specifically about the Kansas Turnpike.
“As of 2 o’clock today, all of the area thoroughfares, ramps, and bridges had been cleared,” KDOT spokeswoman Delaney Tholen said in an interview with FOX4 Thursday.
Tholen said her crews are just going back over interstates and highways.
“A major concern was the temperature, and the ability of the operators to be able to put treatment down, or use pre-treatment, or have it be effective,” she continued. “So the good news is that it seems like the salt brine is working.”