Whiteout conditions from storm across Kansas City - CBS46 News

States of emergency declared as massive winter storm paralyzes area

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Across wide sections of northwest Missouri, whiteout conditions dropped visibility to a point that made driving too risky. The winds and heavy snow, falling as much as 2 inches per hour, removed buildings from view.  (CNN) Across wide sections of northwest Missouri, whiteout conditions dropped visibility to a point that made driving too risky. The winds and heavy snow, falling as much as 2 inches per hour, removed buildings from view. (CNN)
The city requests that residents minimize travel during the weather event in order to allow snow removal crews and emergency responders greater ability to perform duties.   (Photo courtesy Chris Williams) The city requests that residents minimize travel during the weather event in order to allow snow removal crews and emergency responders greater ability to perform duties. (Photo courtesy Chris Williams)
In Kansas City, the skyline disappeared behind a veil of snow. Flakes were falling so fast that plows trying to cross the city simply couldn't keep up.  (Photo courtesy Morgan Tippie) In Kansas City, the skyline disappeared behind a veil of snow. Flakes were falling so fast that plows trying to cross the city simply couldn't keep up. (Photo courtesy Morgan Tippie)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV/AP/CNN) -

As the snow fell fast and furious across the metro, cities have declared a state of emergency in response to the extreme winter weather that is challenging snow removal and emergency response activities.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon have declared states of emergencies across both states.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James along with the leaders of most other area governments made emergency declarations on Thursday to fully access all possible resources and minimize the storm's impact on residents.

"We are asking everyone that can to stay home. If you must be out, use caution," said Kansas City, KS/Wyandotte County Mayor Joe Reardon. "Our crews are doing all they can to clear streets but due to the amount of snow it is going to take some time."

Many stranded motorists stuck going to and from work resorted to staying at motels and hotels. Lodging establishments across the area filled up with drivers.

The Drury Inn at I-35 and Shawnee Mission Parkway was at capacity by 10 a.m. Some motorists said they headed to hotels after spending hours being stuck on area roads and interstates.

Events and meetings were canceled.

Public works crews are continuing to respond to the dire conditions in the metro area. In Kansas City there are currently 250 snow plows in operation on primary and arterial routes.

The city requests that residents minimize travel during the weather event in order to allow snow removal crews and emergency responders greater ability to perform duties.

The area Transportation Authority suspended bus service at 1 p.m. Thursday and won't resume services until Friday morning.

Kansas City ended trash service after completing about 15 percent of routes. Service should resume Friday. Sanitation drivers are now helping out with snow routes.

Nine of the 10 city's Parks and Recreation Department community centers will be open during normal business hours to serve as warming centers. The Tony Aguirre Center will be closed.  The city asks people to call to confirm that the centers are open.

Motorists parked on assigned emergency snow routes face the possibility of vehicles being ticketed or towed. Vehicles without adequate tire tread that get stuck on a major thoroughfare can also be ticketed.

KCP&L crews have been placed on standby alert and additional restoration materials have been staged at various locations throughout the city. Some spotty outages have been reported.  Crews will be called upon to restore power as quickly and as safely as possible.

Across wide sections of northwest Missouri, whiteout conditions dropped visibility to a point that made driving too risky. The winds and heavy snow, falling as much as 2 inches per hour, removed buildings from view.

Snow was coming down faster than the fleet of plows in Kansas City could move it, and morning rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl. Visibility dropped drastically by mid-morning downtown, removing downtown skyscrapers from view.

Kansas City was expected to get up to a foot of snow before the storm exits the region later Thursday. Areas north of the city could see more than a foot.

In Kansas, transportation officials and even the governor urged people to simply stay home after a blanket of snow covered most of the state by early Thursday.

Conditions have deteriorated so much that the Kansas City International Airport has even closed down. This comes as the airport canceled flights and called on passengers to check on the status of their flights before venturing to the airport.

Price Chopper announced that all stores across the area would be closing to keep customers and employees safe.

More than 400 schools and churches have closed their doors Thursday, as have dozens of colleges. The Kansas City Zoo also closed its doors early but not before Berlin and Nikita enjoyed the snow for any hardy visitors.

You can watch the two polar bears on the Nikita cam at www.kctv5.com/nikita

The Kansas and Missouri highway patrols are reporting multiple accidents on state highways in several counties as the winter storm moved in the area.

Go to http://www.kctv5.com/category/213006/school-church-closings to see a complete list of closings.

Go to http://www.kctv5.com/category/209404/traffic for airport delays. Travelers are advised to check on their flights before going to the airport.

The Kansas Turnpike Authority encouraged drivers to stay off the turnpike entirely; it runs from Oklahoma to Kansas City. There was virtually zero visibility on the turnpike early Thursday. And I-70 and other major highways in Kansas were snowpacked and icy, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Brownback closed executive offices, except for essential personnel. He urged residents to have an extra cup of coffee, get out a board game and play with their children.

"Common sense is a good thing, and we'll make it through it," Brownback said.

Officials feared the winter storm would be the worst in the Midwest since the two-day Groundhog Day blizzard in 2011. It was blamed for about two dozen deaths and left hundreds of thousands without power, some for several days. At its peak, the storm created whiteout conditions so intense that Interstate 70 was shut down across the entire state of Missouri.

The massive winter storm is spanning 20 states, bringing life to a standstill in parts of the central United States.

About 20 percent of the U.S. population, 60 million people, are under winter weather warnings, watches and advisories in the 750,000 square miles affected.

Share your storm pictures by uploading them at pix.kctv5.com or email them to yourphotos@kctv5.com.

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

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