At least 17 Kansas students are injured after their school bus slid off a snowy highway as Winter Storm Mabel batters the Midwest before taking aim ......
Feb. 12, 2020
At least 17 Kansas students were injured on Wednesday morning when their school bus slid off a snowy highway as Winter Storm Mabel continues to batter the Midwest before heading to the Northeast later this week.
According to the Lyon County Sheriff's Office, deputies assisted the Kansas Highway Patrol officers with the rollover bus accident that occurred along the Kansas Turn Pike in Chase County. All of the students sustained minor injuries.
A photo of the accident shows the bus had rolled onto its side and landed in a ditch.
'At the time, the roads were a little slushy – we do a good job of keeping those roads as clean as we can, but we can't really beat Mother Nature all the time,' KHP Lt Dave Hundley told The Weather Channel .
The National Weather Service (NWS) said about two inches of snow had fallen in the area before the crash.
Drivers in Kansas, North Dakota and other parts of the Midwest were subject to low visibility and dangerous road conditions on Wednesday. Winter weather alerts are in affect from Kansas City to Syracuse, New York.
Officers from the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP) shared video and images of areas with poor visibility that even prohibited plows from clearing snow from the roads.
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The North Dakota Department of Transportation said Interstate 29 was closed in both directions from the Canadian border to the state line of South Dakota, a distance of more than 250 miles because of blowing and drifting snow and areas of near zero visibility.
By 1pm, the interstate reopened, authorities said.
The [sun] is out, but visibility remains low. Visibility can be less than 100 ft to one mile +. Don’t use cruise, slow down, wear your seat belt & don’t blindly drive into snow fog,' the NDHP tweeted.
Forecasters have posted a blizzard warning for the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota as snow, strong winds and plunging temperatures move in.
The storm not only created difficult travel conditions,but it caused a large number of schools to cancel classes, including North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead.
The blizzard proved too much for researchers tracking the storm in the Red River Valley between North Dakota and Minnesota.
Vince Goden, a meteorologist with the NWS in Grand Forks, North Dakota, told KFGO-AM that the NOAA/National Weather Service Severe Storm Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, sent a mobile, storm-chasing Doppler radar unit to the area to help study the blizzard.
But Goden said the storm moved in 'a little sooner' than expected, and the radar truck got stranded in a ditch west of Grand Forks early Wednesday.
Meteorologists expected wind gusts of 50mph and whiteout conditions, especially in open, rural areas.
Snow accumulations will be low, at one inch to two inches.
The storm is moving North where up to six inches of snow is forecast for parts of the Great Lakes and New England.
On Wednesday, an area of snow, or a rain-and-snow mixture, is possible from north-central Oklahoma northeast as far as western Pennsylvania.
Less than six inches of total snow is predicted for most other areas from the Texas Panhandle to the Midwest.
However some six-plus-inch totals are possible from central Illinois, central Indiana and northern Ohio into the higher elevations of upstate New York and central New England.
The storm system threatens millions of people with flooding in the Deep South, while up to six inches of snow is forecast for parts of the Great Lakes and New England.
Meanwhile downpours continue across the Deep South. On Tuesday, the NWS issued flood alerts for a region stretching from east Texas to Tennessee and North Carolina, covering some 17 million people at risk of flooding.
The weather system was expected to drop an additional two to three inches of rain into Wednesday on already-saturated ground, raising the risk of floods, the NWS said.
In Tennessee, a hillside collapsed, roads were flooded and rivers were rising on Tuesday after a day of heavy rains, and in Mississippi a dam threatened to fail.
On Wednesday, forecasters warned that short bursts of heavy rain starting in the evening could cause already high creeks and streams to overflow and lead to additional flooding in West Virginia.
The NWS issued a flash flood watch for most of the state that started at 4pm Wednesday through Thursday morning.
All schools in McDowell County were closed Wednesday and other counties have moved to end classes early, according to education officials.
Gov Jim Justice on Tuesday told emergency officials to be ready for more flooding this week, saying they are monitoring water levels and will be on standby if local governments need assistance.
Last week, Justice declared a state of emergency in seven counties and mobilized the state’s National Guard as a storm system moved through the region. Multiple school systems closed early as hard rains caused downed trees, rock slides and flooded streets.
The NWS said minor to moderate flooding was expected from central Mississippi to north Georgia following downpours. The Tennessee River was predicted to crest about 7 feet above flood level at Perryville, Tennessee, on Sunday.
Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee, tons of rock and soil slid off a 70-foot hillside and blocked the northbound side of a US 441 spur linking the tourist towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the National Park Service said.
At least 45 dump truck loads will be required to clear the road, officials estimated, but no injuries were reported.
Schools opened late or closed in parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana because of flash flooding. A flood watch stretched from eastern Texas to Mississippi, and parts of Alabama were under flood warnings.
North of Birmingham in Cullman, the sheriff's office said Deputy Adam Clark and his police dog were badly injured in a wreck during heavy rains overnight. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
Days of rain have also left parts of Alabama awash in millions of gallons of dingy water that overflowed from sanitary sewer systems.
On Wednesday, reports submitted to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management showed that more than 18.5 million gallons of sewer water spilled over the past 10 days around Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, where the NWS said some spots have received more than six inches of rain so far this week.
In eastern Mississippi, officials in Starkville said the water at Oktibbeha County Lake had once again reached a critical level just weeks after heavy rains caused a mudslide that put the earthen dam in danger of failing.
Pumps had been used to lower the lake level by about eight feet since mid-January, but officials said the water had risen to an even higher than before because of recent storms.
'It has risen over 8.5 feet from our low elevation during pumping and continues to rise,' said a statement by Kristen Campanella, emergency management director in Oktibbeha County.
Officials also were monitoring the site of a potential dam failure in Yazoo County, where the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said a 40-acre lake in a subdivision was leaking around a culvert and washing away dirt, threatening four homes and a church. Five homes were evacuated after a levee breach in Leake.
Elsewhere in Mississippi, 25 homes had been damaged and four people were hurt in wrecks caused by vehicles hydroplaning on wet roads, according to the state.
The damage was worst in Yazoo, where a dozen people were displaced from homes.
In addition, the NWS confirmed Tuesday that an EF-1 tornado touched down Monday about 2.5 miles northwest of Piave, Mississippi, in Greene County.
The twister caused minor roof damage and uprooted several trees, the weather agency said.
The Tennessee Valley region has received 550 per cent of its normal rainfall during the past seven days, James Everett, senior manager of the Tennessee Valley Authority's River Forecast Center, said in a briefing.
Rainfall averaged around six inches across the valley, but some places got as much as nine inches.
'We're getting a brief break in rainfall today, but we expect it to pick up tomorrow through Thursday,' Everett said on Tuesday.
To manage all of the water, the TVA will continue storing water in large mountain reservoirs to help reduce flooding downstream, Everett said.
The agency plans to adjust its strategy for water storage and flows depending on how much more water falls on the already saturated ground, he said.
Isolated tornadoes and winds in excess of 60mph are possible in some areas of the South after nightfall Wednesday, the NWS said.