Baldwin City digs out from season’s worst winter storm
Stepping outside at about 11 a.m. Wednesday, Martha Wright weighed keeping Whitney’s Hair Salon open for the day.
The salon was closed Tuesday when the worst winter storm of the season blow into northeast Kansas, dumping the predicted 8 to 10 inches of snow on Baldwin City. Wednesday dawned bright and clear and brutally cold single-digit temperatures.
“I have a perm coming in at 11:30,” Wright said. “Sometimes we’re busier in weather like this when people can’t get to Lawrence or out of town. I think I will be open.”
Wednesday closings and cancelations
• Baldwin USD 348 schools and activities
• Baker University Baldwin City campus
• Baldwin City Recreation Commission office and activities
• Baldwin City Public Library
• Ottawa Sanitation recycling service (truck will return next Wednesday)
• Baldwin USD 348 schools and activities
• BCRC activities at schools
Wright said she would mull the decision while getting her mail across the street from her downtown shop.
There, she would find only locally delivered mail. Baldwin City Postmaster Joan Welch said the morning mail delivery truck from Kansas City was unable to make it to Baldwin. Her delivery drivers would deliver to as many patrons as possible in town and on rural routes, she said. To avoid being stranded in dangerously cold conditions, carriers would not attempt to deliver on rural roads that haven’t been plowed, she said.
Welch asked that those with in-town and rural mailboxes clear a path to them once snowplows had cleared streets and roads.
“When carriers have 400 deliveries, it really slows them down when they have to get out and put mail in boxes,” she said.
City crews worked late into the night cleaning streets, Baldwin City Administrator Chris Lowe said. All residential streets have been cleared at least once and crews would be back to hit them again, he said. Those street personnel still on duty Wednesday morning were clearing snow from the curbs along High and Eighth streets and working their way to little used residential streets.
Ottawa Sanitation's recycle truck got stuck and will not make its usual Wednesday rounds this week, Lowe said. It would return next Wednesday, he said. The regular Wednesday trash service was able to make its route, he said.
Baldwin City Police Chief Grey Neis said there were no accidents Tuesday in the city and none have been reported Wednesday.
Helping keep traffic off city streets Wednesday were decisions by Baldwin Superintendent Paul Dorathy and Baker officials to cancel classes and activities for a second day. Baldwin schools will be closed again Thursday as temperatures will remain frigid.
Also closed again Wednesday were the Baldwin City Public Library and Baldwin City Recreation Commission, which canceled all activities.
Austin Braddock, a senior a Bethel Christian Academy, took advantage of the closure of that school Wednesday to make money, shoveling snow from Baldwin City sidewalk with his older brother Luke.
“We’ve hit four homes this morning,” Austin said. “We have more this afternoon."
Baldwin City appears to have spared the worst of the storm. The Lawrence area reported snow accumulation reaching as high as 14 inches. That number would tie for the third-largest 24-hour snowfall in Lawrence history, according to readings taken at Kansas University.
"I think it's a safe bet to say this is a top-5 storm for Lawrence all-time," said National Weather Service meteorologist Chad Omitt. "In any storm, you get that one area that has the most amount of snow and this time it happened to be that I-70 corridor from Abilene right through Lawrence and into Kansas City. The whole I-70 corridor got 12 to 14 inches of snow."
Winds will continue to blow the snow today, with gusts that could reach 30 mph. High temperatures will be in the single digits, with wind chills in the 10-to-20-below-zero range through Thursday morning. A wind chill advisory is in effect until noon today.
Don't expect all this snow to melt anytime soon, as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for at least the next seven days. There's also a chance of more snow falling on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday. "Winter's here to stay," Omitt said.
The Lawrence Journal-World contributed to this story.