Icy Friday brings school closures, driving hazards
Pratt and Kiowa County schools closed on Friday, January 17 due to a winter ice storm system that hit the area last Thursday, leaving behind slick roads and dangerous driving conditions across most of the state of Kansas. Some drivers scrapped 1/4" or more of ice from their vehicles before venturing out Friday morning.
While the Kansas Highway Patrol reported no accidents for the evening of January 16 or morning of January 17 on their website, scanner traffic in Pratt County revealed some driving difficulties when a county sand truck slipped into the ditch south of Lake Road on SE 10th Avenue. The driver of that truck was able to get back on the road without assistance, but there were a couple of vehicles that were stuck on roads and couldn't move because of the ice.
City and county trucks were busy laying down sand and salt to keep traffic moving.
"We haven't have a bad day at all here so far," said Pratt County Sheriff Jimmy White. "The schools closed, drivers were careful, that's how it should be."
The Kiowa County sheriff's department did not respond to an information request concerning issues the ice storm might have caused, but Kiowa County Emergency Management indicated there were some minor driving issues. However, there were no call-outs as a result of the ice storm. By mid-afternoon on Friday, drivers were out and about on area highways and streets but official weather forecasters still recommended people stay inside unless they had to get out.
A Facebook post from USD 422 Kiowa County Mavericks state that Kiowa County High School games scheduled for Friday evening with Kinsley High School were cancelled due to road conditions in the area not improving quick enough to allow for safe travel.
Pratt High School basketball games at Larned were rescheduled from Friday to Saturday to take advantage of warming conditions and safer travel.
An AccuWeather forecast for Friday, Jan. 17 indicated a chance of rain and breezy conditions with a high of 42 degrees so the ice was expected to dissipate. Area farmers who have been needing moisture in this unusually dry winter so far for 2019-2020 were glad for the moisture.
A high of almost 50 was forecast for Sunday, Jan 19 and possible more precipitation on Wednesday, Jan. 22 with temperatures expected to remain above freezing.