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Kansas City snowstorm leaves thousands of Evergy customers without power

A man works outside near a blue and white car. He is wearing warm-weather clothing while scraping snow off the car's windshield. Lots of snow can be seen covering the ground and tree branches behind him.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A pedestrian walks along Warwick Boulevard on Tuesday morning where surrounded by trees heavy with snow-covered branches.

Kansas City got nearly six inches of snow over the last day. Evergy reported nearly 1,400 separate outages in Kansas and Missouri as of Tuesday afternoon, due to the storms and high winds. Looking ahead, "brutal cold."

This story will be updated.

Evergy reported 44,929 customers without power and 1,398 separate outages as of 11:30 on Tuesday morning, stretching east to Sedalia and west to Hutchinson. By mid-afternoon, about half those customers had power back, though thousands are still waiting.

On the other side of the state line, the Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Public Utilities reported 56 outages affecting 2,039 customers.

The Kansas City area saw overnight snowfall of at least four inches, according to theNational Weather Service,and another few inches Tuesday for a total of 5.7 inches.

The power company said high winds in excess of 50 miles per hour were the primary cause of overnight and early morning outages.

Outdoors photo showing snow-covered grounds separated by a plowed street. In the foreground there is a tree branch covered in snow. In background a person is seen walking in the snow.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
A pedestrian walks along Warwick Boulevard on Tuesday morning where surrounded by trees heavy with snow-covered branches.

Evergy said more than 60,000 customers had been reconnected as of Tuesday afternoon, but poor road conditions and ongoing snow slowed the restoration process.

"We don't yet have an estimate for when power will be fully restored because the storm is still moving through the service area and we are assessing damage as crews restore power," the company said on its website.

A large pile of snow is seen on a city street. Two heavy equipment vehicles with plows can be seen pushing snow toward the pile.
Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
Crews work in Country Club Plaza early Tuesday morning to clear the streets.

Kansas City residents can park their cars in municipal garages for free until 2 p.m. Wednesday to keep them sheltered from the storm. The city has also shifted its trash pickup. City crews will not collect any waste Tuesday, and will instead bump each route back one day.

Michael Shaw, Kansas City's Director of Public Works, said late Tuesday that 300 snowplows had cleared about 50 percent of the streets, mostly the main arterials.

"We are getting down to bare pavement. We have lot of streets, more than half of the streets in the city, are clear," he said. "The temperatures are getting below freezing, so we have to be concerned about refreeze."

While the snow may be ending, the cold temperatures will remain. The National Weather Service reports that the coldest period for Kansas City is January 10 through January 23, when the normal high is 38 and low is 19.

"On cue, tonight will be the first time this winter KC will drop into the teens. Unfortunately, that will just be a precursor to the brutal cold this weekend," the NWS tweeted at mid-afternoon on Tuesday.

Shaw said he was concerned that the low temperatures will create "black ice" on the streets. Kansas City City Manager Brian Platt said he, too, was concerned with the low temperatures leaving slick streets. He was optimistic, though, as he said the city is using a new kind of chemical on the roads called “Iceman.”

“Standard salt is calcium chloride, Iceman is blue. It's magnesium chloride. It works at much lower temperatures," Platt said. "So speaking of those frigid cold temperatures that we're expecting to see in the next few days and weeks here, that's the kind of stuff we're gonna be putting on on those streets."

Madeline Fox is a news editor for KCUR.
I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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