Winter Storm Gia leaves massive blanket of snow across MO

Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Edwin A. Pape Lake looks fresh and clean Monday morning, Jan. 14. The lake seemed especially serene surrounded by snow that fell over the weekend of Jan. 11-13. The storm caused numerous traffic accidents across Missouri, as well as power outages, and downed limbs and power lines in many areas.
Bob Stewart/The Concordian

A snowstorm that stretched 2,000 miles, from the Colorado Rockies to the Atlantic Ocean, marched across Missouri from Friday afternoon, Jan. 11, through Sunday morning, Jan. 13.
According to the National Weather Service, Missouri was the hardest hit. Snow totals that topped 10 inches in parts of the Kansas City area peaked at more than 20 inches in east-central Missouri, according to 72-hour snow totals from the NWS. The NWS reported the snowfall amount was the most in a single day that the Kansas City region had seen in nearly three decades.
According to Gary Beissenherz, Concordia Cooperative Observer for the NWS, light rain started in Concordia at approximately 10 a.m. Friday.
“The rain turned to snow around noon Friday, and got progressively heavier during the afternoon and continued all night with 8.0 inches by 7 a.m. Saturday,” Beissenherz reported.
Light snow and flurries continued most of Saturday and Saturday night, bringing another 2 inches by 7 a.m. Sunday. Flurries continued through early Sunday afternoon, with a trace of additional snow recorded 7 a.m. Monday.
“This is the heaviest snow event here since 2013, when 10.5 inches was recorded on Feb. 21 and 22, and 11.0 recorded on Feb. 25, 26 and 27,” Beissenherz reported. “The last comparable snow was 9.5 inches on Feb. 4 and 5, 2014.”
Beissenherz said 2018 ended with 16.5 inches of snow. Other recent year snow totals are as follows: 2017 - 3.5 snow; 2016 - 2.8 snow; 2015 - 11.4 snow; 2014 - 17.6 snow; and 2013 - 37.6 snow. Average annual snowfall in Concordia since 1959 is 16.57 inches.
The most recent winter storm began to unfold over the region on Friday afternoon with heavy snow and freezing rain across Missouri and Kansas. Some motorists became stranded on the snow-covered roads for hours, and additional travel delays continued through Saturday.
Snow, sleet and freezing rain moved into the mid-Atlantic and Carolinas on Saturday evening. Roads quickly became slick and travel delays mounted.
As of 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, the Missouri Department of Transportation reportedly had had over 200 trucks plowing highways and roads across the state. At a 2 p.m. news conference on Saturday, a MoDOT spokesman said their biggest concern was re-freezing that evening and overnight.
Meanwhile, at 6:40 p.m. Saturday the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported it had responded to nearly 4,000 calls for help and had rescued nearly 1,800 stranded motorists. State police recorded 878 crashes on interstates and highways. The patrol also stated that 57 people were injured and four died as of Saturday evening in those traffic accidents.
Power outages were common during and after the storm. The weight of the heavy, wet snow caused some trees to snap, leading to sporadic power outages. Some area KCP&L electric customers in the area still are without power due to a snowstorm over the weekend.
According to a post on KCP&L’s website, Winter Storm Gia dumped heavy, wet snow on the area. Snow clung to tree limbs and equipment, taking down tree limbs and power lines. As a result, KCP&L experienced extensive damage to its electrical system and many customers lost power. At the peak, about 110,000 customers were without power, which is the largest storm — in terms of customer outages — that KCP&L has had since 2011. As of 9 a.m. Sunday, about 85,000 customers were without power. By 6 p.m. that day, power had been restored to more than 80,000 customers.
“Typically, outage numbers reduce very quickly early on in storms of this magnitude as we get a large volume of customers restored by repairing main lines,” said Bruce Akin, vice president, distribution operations for KCP&L. “The bulk of outages from this storm by far have been smaller in nature, meaning we are only turning on a handful of customers with each repair.”
KCP&L crews have been joined by crews from Iowa, Illinois and across Missouri to help restore power. Utilities have a practice of sharing crews when large storms hit areas to enable them to grow their work force and respond to the urgent need. Line contractors and tree trimming contractors are assisting, as well.
KCP&L reports that new reports of power outages still are being received, and that some customers have lost power multiple times. Possible causes of multiple outages include snow melting and refreezing on equipment, and other tree branches breaking and affecting lines that have already been fixed.

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