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Photos: Kansas City draped in snow after winter storm, closing schools and businesses

A man in heavy coat and green safety vest uses a snow shovel to clear a sidewalk. Around him the street and empty lot are covered in snow.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
John Brown shovels snow at a KC Streetcar stop early Wednesday morning near the corner of Main and 16th Streets. Brown said he was going to be busy all day with the snow that accumulated as soon as he shoveld it off.

Kansas Citians woke up to see several inches of snow, but the storm brought far less than the 9-12 inches predicted by the National Weather Service. Schools and many businesses closed Wednesday, while others still hit the streets for cleanup or to continue their daily routine.

The Kansas City metro woke up to snow on Wednesday morning — albeit less than initially predicted by the National Weather Service. By 8 a.m., only about two inches had accumulated.

Dozens of school districts around the area preemptively closed for the day, as did many businesses.

Even still, city crews, private contractors and business owners were out early on the streets and sidewalks to clear off the powder, which continued to accumulate through the morning.

A person wearing heavy winter clothes and a large backpack carries a cup and walks across a snowy street scene.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A pedestrian crosses the streetcar tracks on Main Street near 13th Street early Wednesday morning.

“At first, it didn’t start off so bad,” said John Brown, who was shoveling snow at a KC Streetcar stop at 16th and Main Street. “And the next thing you know it started coming out of nowhere.”

Brown works for a private contractor hired by KC Streetcar. He started his day at 5 a.m. and had already shoveled this streetcar stop once.

“As soon as I shovel, it gets covered right back up,” Brown said.

A streetcar is pulled next to a curb covered in snow. A rider is about to step into the streetcar.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A rider enters a KC Streecar early Wednesday morning near 17th and Main Street. KC Streetcar suspended their continuos-ride policy allowing people to be able to ride as long as they want to keep warm in extreme wether.

On Wednesday, KC Streetcar was running two streetcars instead of three, said spokesperson Donna Mandelbaum, but they were able to keep to their regular schedule.

“We’re working a little bit harder with all this snow,” Mandelbaum said. “We staffed up a little bit extra to make sure that we are on top of clearing the snow on top of the tracks and the streetcar stops.”

A white pickup with a red plow attached creates a cloud of snow as it drives over a pair of streetcar rails.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A snowplow pushes north on Main Street clearing off the KC Streetcar rails Wednesday morning.

Mandelbaum noted that KC Streetcar suspends their continuous-ride policy in extreme weather. This allows people to stay on the streetcar to stay warm without being forced to get off at Union Station.

“We’re there for people to stay warm,” she added.

Near the corner of Main and Walnut, Tower Properties employee Gary Mathews cleared the sidewalk using a four-wheel ATV, outfitted with a plow and a hopper for salt.

A man driving a four-wheel ATV with its lights on creates a pile of snow near a city sidewalk using the plow.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Tower Properties employee Gary Mathews clears the sidewalk using a four-wheel ATV, outfitted with a plow and a hopper for salt near the corner of Main and Walnut Streets early Wednesday morning.

“I’d rather be retired and home in bed with my wife where it’s nice and warm right now,” he said laughing.

Although Mathews also got started around 5 a.m., he said the snow wasn’t as bad as predicted.

“It’s light. It moves easy,” he said. “It’s not real heavy, but it’s going to be slick in some areas and the wind’s going to blow it around.”

A man smoking a cigarette peeks out from inside a blue and gray tent. It's snowing and snow has accumulated around the tent.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A man who only identified himself as Carlos peeks out from his tent outside Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus early Wednesday morning. Carlos said he uses a zero-degree sleeping bag to combat the cold.

Outside the Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus, at 705 Virginia Avenue, several people had camped out overnight. Some had erected tents, while others simply wrapped up in blankets covered with snow.

Carlos — who only gave his first name — spent the night in a two-person tent with his friend Maurice on the west side of the Hope Faith building.

Just before 7 a.m., Carlos unzipped the tent for the first time. “Look at this!” he exclaimed, seeing how much snow had fallen.

A man in dark winter clothes bends down outside a brick building in the snow talking to a person wrapped in a thick blanket and partially covered in snow.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Hope Faith Executive Director Doug Langner tries to coax a woman to come into the shelter early Wednesday morning. She had spent the night outside sleeping only in the blanket.

Carlos said sleeping in the tent was not too much of a struggle. “We was fine,” he said.

Carlos said he works during the day, but he did cancel his gig work for Wednesday because it was too cold to walk to the bus stop. “I’ve got a zero-degree sleeping bag,” he said. “I try to do my urban camping as comfortable as possible.”

Hope Faith executive director Doug Langner said that when he arrived at the building on Wednesday around 6 a.m., he found a woman sleeping on concrete, wrapped only with a blanket, not far from Carlos’ tent.

Several people all wearing heavy jackets use snow shovels to clear a sidewalk that borders a large, empty lot covered in snow.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
A crew working for a private contractor shovel off the snow along 13th Street near Holmes early Wednesday morning.

After several attempts, Langner said he was able to wake her and convince her to come into the building.

Langner said their mission constantly requires the need for donations, volunteers and resources, but the extreme weather adds extra stress to their work.

“It makes you remember what we’re working for as an organization,” he said. “Today is about keeping people alive and warm and fed.”

A man and a woman walk in the snow. They are wearing heavy winter clothes. She is holding two coffee cups. He is holding a leash attached to a medium-sized, brown dog that is jumping out of the snow.
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Travis Stewart and Kelley Klein walk their dog Greta on Wednesday near the River Market. They said Greta woke up, looked out the window and started barking at the snow.

Outreach workers who serve Kansas City’s unhoused population say they need additional provisions during severe cold and snowy weather.

“If you’re living on the street, you pretty much walk everywhere, even to a warming center,” said Nellie McCool, donation coordinator for Creative Innovative Street Outreach. “If you’re not dressed in proper attire, you’re at much higher risk of hypothermia, which is what happened to Scott Eike last year, and why he froze to death.”

Eike was an unhoused Kansas Citian who was found dead from exposure on New Year’s Day 2021. Advocates said a recent sweep of his encampment left Eike without necessary resources.

People can donate items for unhoused residents at the City Union Mission drop-off site, at 1700 East 8th Street, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Items needed include:

  • Heavy socks
  • Thermal gloves
  • Thermal long underwear (new and unused)
  • Heavy, long-sleeved shirts (clean, with buttons)
  • Heavy coats (clean, working zipper)
  • Heavy blankets or sleeping bags
  • Tarps

Other information for the houseless include Free Hot Soup Kansas City, The Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness and Hope Faith Ministries.

KCUR's Laura Ziegler contributed to this story.

As KCUR’s general assignment reporter and visual journalist, I bring our audience inside the daily stories that matter most to the people of the Kansas City metro, showing how and why events affect residents. Through my photography, I seek to ensure our diverse community sees itself represented in our coverage. Email me at carlos@kcur.org.
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