Third Wave Of Freezing Rain Hits Central U.S.

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Courtesy KCTV

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBS News) — A third wave of sleet and drizzle glazed swaths of the central U.S. on Sunday, extending icy weather that some meteorologists began acknowledging fell short of dire forecasts.

Much of the region remained under an ice storm warning on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as stretches continued getting pelted by rain, often in areas where temperatures hovered around freezing.

The freeze made roads harrowing. In Kansas near Kansas City, two troopers escaped injury when their vehicles were struck while working a crash along northbound Interstate 635. And in central Nebraska, authorities believe icy conditions contributed to a fiery crash involving two tractor-trailers shortly before 9 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 80, forcing the closure of 15 miles of Interstate 80. It was not immediately clear whether that wreck caused any injuries.

Authorities say ice contributed to a southwestern Kansas wreck Saturday night that killed a 35-year-old Oklahoma man and injured several others. The Kansas Highway Patrol said Thay Torres-Ocacio of Guymon, Oklahoma, died after the sport utility vehicle in which he was riding went out of control on an overpass and eventually overturned several times.

Some people lost power amid the storm. Nearly 10,000 electric customers were without power in Oklahoma, with most of those in northwestern part of the state.

However, temperatures in the state’s eastern half are expected to hit into the upper 40s and 50s, CBS Tulsa affiliate KOTV reported on Sunday. Rain was forecast for Sunday night.

South of Kansas City, the latest round of storms dumped three-quarters of an inch of precipitation overnight, resulting in about one-quarter of an inch of ice.

Jared Leighton, a National Weather Service meteorologist near Kansas City, Missouri, said Sunday that while the breadth of the ice accumulations fell short of expectations, “that shouldn’t distract from the impact of the storm.”

“The amounts were never really the story; the impacts were,” Leighton told The Associated Press. “The roads are still a mess, and the Highway Patrol is having their vehicles run into.”

Becky Allmeroth, a state maintenance engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said ice is “the most difficult storm to fight.”

“We are keeping up with the changing conditions, but it is a continual battle,” she said of the department’s around-the-clock scrambling to treat the glazed roads. “The precipitation is coming in waves, and we have to apply more salt.”

Many residents had prepared for the storms by stocking up on bread, milk and other necessities and by buying flashlights and generators to have on hand in case power gets knocked out.

The storm prompted the NFL to move the AFC divisional playoff game in Kansas City between the Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers to Sunday evening to allow more time to treat roads and parking lots at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was scheduled to kick off at noon but now will start at 7:20 p.m.

The stadium’s field crew worked overnight to prepare the field, CBS Kansas City affiliate KCTV reported. They used a tarp to try and keep the field dry for Sunday’s game and planned to work on the field throughout the afternoon.

The National Weather Service said significant freezing rain will continue for parts of the Plains and the Midwest on Sunday.

“Cold air will allow snow to fall in the High Plains,” the service said. “On the south side of the storm, warmer air will allow a chance of severe thunderstorms and heavy rain to develop in Texas on Sunday.”