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Photos: Winter storm blankets Kansas City with snow, closing schools and icing roads

A giant shuttlecock sculpture sits in a snow-covered field. Two people are milling about nearby. One is handling her phone while the other person, a man, approaches her.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
The Weather Channel Meteorologist Chris Bruin, left, and his producer, Trish Ragsdale, take a selfie in front of one of the Shuttlecock sculptures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art early Thursday morning.

A winter storm dumped more than nine inches of snow by 3 p.m. Thursday. Officials asked residents to stay off the roads as snow plows struggled to clear streets. 

Snow plow drivers are struggling to clear roads as snow continues to fall. A mix of sleet and freezing rain early Thursday morning, followed by heavy snow, made for treacherous roads. By noon Thursday, parts of the city had accumulated more than six inches of snow.

"We finally had snowmageddon," said Kansas City Public Works Director Michael Shaw.

"It finally showed up. We've been practicing for a couple of months now."

Shaw said the massive accumulation was making it take longer to clear roads in the metro and asked the public to stay home and give his crews a chance to plow the streets safely.

Shoveling sidewalks and driveways proved to be a day-long chore for many residents.

A man bundled in heavy winter clothes pushes a gas-powered snow blower on a brick sidewalk near a row of treees.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
David Bartlett uses a gas-powered snow blower to clean off the sidewalk in front of the Crestwood Shops early Thursday morning. Bartlett said he expected to be repeating this several times Thursday as he expected the snow to continue to fall throughout the day.

David Bartlett was pushing a gas-powered snow blower outside Crestwood Shops in Brookside Thursday morning to clear the sidewalks in front of the storefronts. He had just finished pushing snow off the parking spaces after cleaning off the area in front of Aixois restaurant, which had already opened for business.

“So we’ve cleaned it first and we’ve been here once already at 6 o’clock, and now we're returning at 9:30, and then we’ll probably return at noon as long as the snow keeps falling at the rate it’s falling right now,” Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the snow was a little bit harder to move this time around.

“It’s wetter than the last two snows. The last two snows were pretty dry,” he said. “This one has more moisture in it, so it’s a little bit harder to push off.”

Two large snow plows push snow off a street as snow falls around them.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City snowplows clear the streets near UMKC early Thursday morning. The massive amount of snow challenged the city's crews to keep up as a steady snowfall accumulated throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Kansas City, Missouri, preemptively canceled trash and recycling pickup Thursday and Friday so crews could work on clearing streets instead.

Snow began accumulating at around 5 a.m. in the metro and was expected to continue for several hours, according to the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill.

Meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz told KCUR that some sleet began around 3 a.m. in some areas and was followed by a rare “thundersnow.”

“It only happens every once in a while,” he said. “It’s more common here in the Midwest and now it’s the east coast as well.”

Closeup photo of a woman bundled in a heavy coat with a fuzzy lining watching snow fall around her.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Gloria Haynes waits on Troost Ave. near 43rd Street early Thursday afternoon where she fumed because the bus was running about 30 minutes late.

Thundersnow is the result of ice crystals floating in the air, he said. This combines with a mass of cold air moving on top of warmer air.

“It kind of acts like a thunderstorm,” Kurtz said. “But instead of rain you get more snow out of it.”

The storm was big enough to draw the attention of The Weather Channel.

Meteorologist Chris Bruin and his producer Trish Ragsdale arrived from Atlanta on Wednesday. They took time after their early morning report to visit the Shuttlecock sculptures at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Ricardo Martinez shovels snow off the sidewalk in front of the Kaufman Foundation and Conference Center early Thursday morning. Martinez said the snow was a bit heavy to shovel compared to the last snowfall.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Ricardo Martinez shovels snow off the sidewalk in front of the Kaufman Foundation and Conference Center early Thursday morning. Martinez said the snow was a bit heavy to shovel compared to the last snowfall.

“This is a big storm for Kansas City,” Bruin said. “It’s been a few years at least since we’ve had one of this magnitude.”

“We’re closing in on at least five, probably six inches and we still have another solid three or more hours to go,” Bruin said at about 10 a.m. Thursday.

Ragsdale noted the extreme swing in temperatures from when they arrived Wednesday morning.

Even by the middle of this week, meteorologists were having a hard time predicting how much snow the Kansas City area would get.

“We were literally exploring the prairies in Kansas, it was in the sixties. We were enjoying all this, looking how beautiful it was down here and just trying to imagine it covered in snow,” Ragsdale said while standing near a drift of snow on the south lawn of the museum.

“And now here we are,” she said looking around the snow-covered field. Ragsdale said they often see big storms in the course of their work.

“This is the biggest snowstorm, personally, I’ve been in this winter.”

Updated: February 17, 2022 at 3:30 PM CST
This story was updated at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
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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