More than 10,000 without power as winter storm blasts KC - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Tens of thousands still without power after winter storm

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A second winter storm is bearing down on Kansas City on Tuesday, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in the metro. A second winter storm is bearing down on Kansas City on Tuesday, closing highways and cutting power to thousands in the metro.
Blizzard conditions creeping up on the area have also prompted the cancellation of numerous flights in and out of the city's major airport. (Photo courtesy: Bernadette Habiger Murray) Blizzard conditions creeping up on the area have also prompted the cancellation of numerous flights in and out of the city's major airport. (Photo courtesy: Bernadette Habiger Murray)
Kansas City Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency, an unwanted encore just five days after a major snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow on his city. Kansas City Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency, an unwanted encore just five days after a major snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow on his city.
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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP) -

Power companies are diligently working away to restore power to remaining customers who are still in the dark.

By Tuesday morning, local energy provider KCP&L reported more than 47,000 power outages in the Kansas City area. Westar Energy is responding to about 2,400 outages in Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Douglas counties in Kansas.

It was an ongoing battle that started at 2 a.m. Tuesday when the first calls started coming in. The main cause of the power outages was tree limbs breaking from the weight of the snow, pulling down power lines.

In one scary scene, a driver was driving in the area of 56th Street and Mission Drive when a tree limb fell on his car, brining power lines with it. The driver walked away unharmed.

But residents in the area have been without power. Officials with KCP&L said they have 650 linemen and tree trimmers working to restore power across the metro area. They even brought in contractors from as far away as Springfield, MO, and Omaha, NE, to help Kansas City get its lights back on.

"The difference in this storm and the last storm is this storm came down and it was very wet. Also we had higher winds this time than last time, and those two things don't mix well. It brought the trees down into the lines and caused the lines to fall to the ground. We have more outages than we had last week," said Chris Kurtz, the senior director of operations for KCP&L.

During the worst part of the story they had 94,000 people without power. As of 4 p.m., 60 percent of those are back with power, but they were still working to return power to nearly 30,000 customers.

The hardest hit areas are Overland Park, KS, southern Johnson County and Gladstone, MO.

In the meantime, some people without power are staying with friends, family or at a hotel. But people like the Smith family, who don't have those options, are getting cold and frustrated. They live near 13th Street and Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, KS. They lost electricity at 2 a.m. Tuesday and, without power, their furnace won't work either.

Martha Smith said she called the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities many times and still hasn't had any luck getting crews to her area. She said she has an electric stove, so she can't cook warm meals for her two grandchildren who live with her. On top of that, her house sits on a hill that hasn't been plowed yet, so she can't drive anywhere.

"It's just so cold in here, it really is. What else can I do? I called BPU and then I called American Red Cross to help us out, to get us somewhere. I have called four times, so what are we all going to do?" Smith said.

"When I woke up it was real cold. I had to put on a coat and long pants," Shawn Smith said.

All lanes of Gregory Boulevard about a half mile east of Oldham Road near the Swope Park area of Kansas City are blocked due to a fallen tree. It happened just before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency, an unwanted encore just five days after a major snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow on his city. Schools, government offices and businesses across the region are also closed. James urged residents to stay home if they could.

Blizzard conditions creeping up on the area have also prompted the cancellation of numerous flights in and out of the city's major airport.

Passengers were urged to check with their airlines before heading to Kansas City International Airport. Officials said most Monday night arrival flights to the airport had been canceled, as have many early Tuesday morning departures.

KCI didn't experience a full shutdown as it did just six days ago, when a major snowstorm hit the region.

Up to 15 inches or more were forecast for parts of western Missouri, with a foot or more in Kansas City alone: "This one has the potential to be quite serious," James said.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is attributing two fatal accidents to the latest winter storm.

The patrol says 28-year-old Kirstin R. Nelson of Ellis died Monday in an accident on Interstate 70 in Ellis County, eight miles west of Hays. The patrol says she was a passenger in a car driven by her husband, 31-year-old Eric J. Nelson. The truck slid on the icy road and rolled.

Eric Nelson, the couple's 5-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old passenger were injured. They were taken to area hospitals but the extent of their injuries was not available.

The first fatality occurred Monday morning on I-70 in Sherman County. A vehicle driven by 21-year-old Carlos Esqueda of Kansas City, KS, hit an icy patch and rolled, ejecting Esqueda. A passenger was injured.

Texas Tech's men's basketball team stayed overnight at a hotel in Manhattan, KS, after playing Kansas State on Monday night, rather than try to drive back to Lubbock, TX. Also late Monday, officials with Oklahoma State University announced it would be closed Tuesday due to the weather.

The City Union Mission said their shelters are full of men, women and children seeking refuge from the weather and the snowstorm kept some staff from being able to come in.

The American Red Cross told its volunteers and workers in Kansas City to be prepared to help in the case of power outages or large numbers of stranded travelers.

Area hospitals closed outpatient and urgent care centers, and the University of Missouri canceled classes for Tuesday. The Missouri Department of Transportation issued a "no travel" advisory asking people to stay off affected highways except in case of a dire emergency.

Winds in excess of 30 mph were expected to cause whiteout conditions by early morning. There also was some concern that early rainfall could form a layer of ice beneath the snow, worsening driving conditions for those who dared the morning commute.

Greg Bolon, assistant Kansas City public works director, said the city's plow drivers had been working around the clock in 12-hour shifts since Wednesday and were bracing for several more days of extended schedules. City plows focused on arterial streets late Monday and early Tuesday.

Bolon asked local residents to be patient with plow drivers, even if they throw heavy snow back into already-shoveled driveways as they clear the streets. He said the long, often-thankless hours can take a toll on workers who are just doing what they're told.

"We're out there doing what we can to get streets open, and when people come out and shake their fists at you, it probably bothers you more mentally because you're doing what you're supposed to do," Bolon said.

He said supervisors were keeping an eye on drivers for signs of fatigue, but he thought most were doing fine because of 12-hour intervals between shifts.

National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Bowman in Pleasant Hill, MO, said the most intense snow in the Kansas City area was expected from midnight to 6 a.m. Tuesday. Southern parts of the city and counties to the south were expected to see 10 to 12 inches of snow, he said, while the northern part of the city was looking at 6 to 10 inches.

Other weather outlets predicted well more than a foot of snow over a narrow swath of counties in Missouri, which Bowman said was possible but probably on the high side.

"The potential is there," he said. "We're probably being a little more conservative because you're getting into stuff that's never occurred before with that kind of snowfall. There is still some debate about whether we have enough instability to lead to that kind of accumulation."

Meteorologist Mike Umscheid of the National Weather Service office in Dodge City, KS, said this latest storm combined with the storm last week will help alleviate the drought conditions that have plagued farmers and ranchers across the Midwest, and could be especially helpful to the winter wheat crop planted last fall.

But getting two back-to-back storms of this magnitude doesn't mean the drought is finished.

"If we get one more storm like this with widespread 2 inches of moisture, we will continue to chip away at the drought, but to claim the drought is over or ending is way too premature," Umscheid said.

Click here to track power restoration through BPU. KCP&L is updating their restoration process on their website as well.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press.  All rights reserved.

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