Not exactly Snowmageddon, but ...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Matthew Resnick/Tribune photo A snow plow clears the road around 9th and Horton streets Tuesday. While Bourbon County did not receive the predicted six to nine inches, it did get its share and fared better than other areas of the state. Schools and some businesses were closed and residents were encouraged to stay home Tuesday. Gov. Sam Brownback announced a state of disaster emergency.

Local law enforcement officials said they are pleased the snow which blanketed Bourbon County on Tuesday caused no major problems.

Snow that began falling early Tuesday morning and continued through much of the day dropped just a couple inches of the white stuff, causing several cancellations in the area, but no major vehicle incidents.

"Knock on wood, we were fortunate today with the snow," Fort Scott Police Chief Travis Shelton said. "We were not busy with accident reports, and that helps with school being out and places like businesses closed."

Bourbon County Sheriff Bill Martin said he talked to one of his deputies Tuesday morning who reported no accidents or slide-offs.

"People are behaving," Martin said. "It helped out with many local businesses closed, and schools closing down early. It keeps people off the roads."

Shelton and Martin both said it is unwise to get out and travel in wintry conditions unless it is absolutely necessary.

"Don't get out if you don't have to," Shelton said. "Because you're a good driver doesn't mean someone else is a good driver."

Even vehicles with four-wheel drive capabilities "can't stop any better than any other vehicle," Shelton said.

"If you're going faster than reasonable, you can be in an accident easy in these kind of conditions," he said.

Martin said people should only get out in wintry weather during emergency situations. Local residents seemed to be prepared for the winter storm and took appropriate precautions.

"They were aware of the storm coming in a couple of days prior," he said. "They actually took the warning and prepared themselves for it ... people are kind of settling in. It's helping us out. We're not out there as law enforcement officers being in an accident."

Martin said he and his deputies don't have trouble navigating in snow should they need to respond to situations.

"All-wheel drives can assist us in areas where roads aren't treated," he said.

Shelton said he talks to his officers about how adverse weather can affect their regular job duties.

"We talk to officers about safety, not only slips and falls, but when out in an accident, being conscious of people in vehicles," he said. "People will turn their head and watch an officer working an accident and they can't control a vehicle. We don't want people sliding off."

Martin said winter weather occasionally plays a factor in his department's operations.

"Sometimes the weather does, it increases the calls for service to check on vehicles," he said.

As far as snow accumulations, Bourbon County Emergency Manager William Wallis said it was difficult to gauge exactly how much snow fell since snowfall amounts can change so quickly. Bourbon County was projected to receive six to nine inches of snow. There were intermittent periods when snowfall ceased Tuesday.

"We got less than predicted but it's not over," he said.

According to the National Weather Service, snow was still predicted to fall in the area through 6 a.m. today.

"People just need to take precautions," Wallis said, adding the best advice he could give motorists is to make sure their fuel tank is full and to have a winter weather travel kit on hand. "Make sure your fuel tank is full no matter where you go ... and brace for bitter cold coming. When you add snow into bitter cold, we've got a problem."

Wallis also said he hadn't heard of any serious accidents within the county Tuesday.

"I talked to (Fort Scott Fire Chief) Paul Ballou. He didn't mention anything," Wallis said. "People are being cautious."