A potent winter storm is on the way for a large part of the Kansas, but the state's largest city is beginning to run low on the salt and sand mix used to treat area roads.
Monday afternoon, City of Wichita officials held a media briefing concerning their preparations for the incoming storm. Starting this afternoon, 50 trucks are being mobilized to plow emergency snow routes around the clock until streets are cleared. City employees will be working on rotating 12-hour shifts.
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Wichita and the surrounding area until early Wednesday. Snow is expected to begin tonight and increase in intensity during the day Thursday. KAKE First Alert Managing Meteorologist Jay Prater says Wichita could see six to nine inches of snow before the system moves out.
City officials say road conditions could deteriorate rapidly during the storm. Previous storms, including ice accumulation late last week, have reduced the city's supply of salt/sand mix to 32% capacity. That amount will allow crews to treat the city's emergency routes one time.
The city placed an order for 3,000 tons of salt in December, but they say national demand has limited deliveries since then. Because of this crews will only use plows until the snow has ended, then the remaining salt and sand will be used when it's most effective.
The shortage, along with blowing and drifting snow, may lead to hazardous road conditions. Joe Pajor, assistant director of Public Works, says the shortage may not be an issue if there's only snow and no ice.
Additional winter weather is possible in the Wichita area at the end of this week.