Shifting winter storm forecast proves tricky for NEJC public works crews

Traffic was flowing smoothly on Johnson Drive in Mission this morning with pre-treated roads.
Traffic was flowing smoothly on Johnson Drive in Mission this morning with pre-treated roads.

It was a long and wintry night for northeast Johnson County public works staffers.

Road crews reported for duty in Mission, Roeland Park, Prairie Village and other NEJC cities Sunday night to start laying down salt on the roads in anticipation of the winter storm that rolled into the area early Monday.  In Mission, drivers reported at 7 p.m. and started the first of two 12-hour shifts. In Roeland Park, crews started pre-treating roads at 8 p.m.

And while the public works officials had plenty of notice the storm was coming, the changing nature of the forecast provided some challenges. The border between temperature zones above and below freezing was expected to cut through the Kansas City area, meaning it was difficult to know whether to expect freezing rain, sleet or snow.

“The biggest difficulty with this storm is the ice,” said Mission Public Works Director John Belger. “It takes a lot of treatment and going over areas multiple times to get down to the pavement.  This storm in particular is difficult because you do not know what to expect.  A variance of one degree could be the difference between snow and ice.”

As of late Monday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting rain and freezing rain hitting northeast Johnson County through approximately 1 p.m., when it is expected to change over to snow. The Kansas City metro is expected to see between one and three inches of total snow accumulation, with the heaviest accumulation on the north side of the area.