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February 15, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Heavy Snow Causes Multiple Car Pile-Ups

Over the Valentine’s Day weekend a strong, fast moving winter storm produced 3-5 inches of snow in about 12 hours. Making matters worse, the winds at the surface were gusting upwards of 30 to 35mph at times. These conditions created near whiteout conditions, leading to several multi-vehicle crashes. One crash located on Interstate 70 near Bonner Springs involved 40 cars, with additional wrecks shutting down Interstate 435 and Interstate 35 in Johnson County, Kansas. 13 people were taken to the hospital mostly with minor injuries. The highways have since reopened.

The cause of this heavy snow was due to the center of the storm system crossing right over the Kansas City area. Ahead of the system, skies were clear allowing for temperatures to warm near the ground. However, above the ground a very large and abnormally cold pocket of temperatures began to race southeast into the area. Also, areas of the atmosphere where significant moisture existed fell into a critical temperature range between -10C (14F) and -20C (-4F) making the production of snow very efficient.

Though Kansas City is no stranger to snow and Kansas City residents have plenty of experience driving in icy conditions, interstate travel is always a blend of experienced and inexperienced drivers, local with out-of-state drivers, as well as fast- and slow-moving vehicles. Often times when combined with unusual or unexpected weather, this is a recipe for disaster.

Kansas City wasn’t the only location to see multiple car pile-ups. Last Wednesday whiteout conditions were occurring during what is being called “Snowmageddon” making driving extremely dangerous. Snow combined with 50mph winds caused a 50 car pile up on I-64 westbound in Williamsburg, Virginia. Seven people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries but no fatalities have been reported.

 It’s always a good idea to brush up on your Winter Weather Driving Tips.

Pictures: First two from the Kansas City pile-up. The others from VDOT of the Williamsburg pile-up.


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