As the end of Thanksgiving break approached, many students and faculty needed to begin the journey back to campus after being away for the week. Unfortunately, for many coming from the Kansas City area or other parts of the country, the winter weather caused difficulty on the commute back to Pittsburg State University.
According to the National Weather Service, Sunday saw the first blizzard warning for the Kansas City area since Jan. 31, 2011. The Weather Service says that to reach “blizzard” status, a storm must last three hours or more with sustained or frequent wind gusts of 35 mph or higher, with considerable amounts of falling and blowing snow that reduces visibility frequently to less than a 1/4 mile.
Jeffrey Keiter, junior in construction management, said he began the drive back to PSU from Kansas city on Sunday afternoon just as the weather began taking a turn for the worse.
“I was looking at the weather forecast and saw it was going snow, but I figured it would be okay,” Keiter said.
He said the road conditions caused him to take approximately twenty minutes longer to reach Pittsburg.
“They were somewhat slippery, the snow was coming down,” Keiter said, “and you would have to keep it under 60 mph. Otherwise, you would start hydroplaning.”
Not only did the storm cause trips back to campus to take longer, but it also prevented some students from being able to arrive back to the university in time for some of the Monday classes.
Kori Brown, freshman in communication, said she missed her 9 a.m. psychology class because she was not able to get back to PSU in time.
“I planned on leaving the night before, so Sunday night, but my parents wanted me to stay because the weather was starting to get bad Sunday.”
She started her drive back to Pittsburg at 6:45 a.m. Monday morning in hopes of being able to make her early classes, but the road conditions slowed her down. On a normal day, she said, the drive from Olathe, Kansas would only take about an hour and fifteen minutes, but the drive on Monday took her two hours. She said the roads were pretty bad.
“I would have expected them to be clearer but they weren’t,” Brown said, “I spun out a few times and there was a lot of black ice and slippery spots.”
Various roads and highways, including US-75 and Interstate-35, were shut down. Additionally, the Kansas City airport was also closed; arriving and departing flights stopped at 2:30 p.m. The airport was reopened by 6:45 p.m. For some students who were travelling to other states by air, the closure of the airport meant they could not return to Pittsburg until their flights had been rescheduled.
Dan Wang, senior in finance, is an exchange student and visited New York City over Thanksgiving. She had driven there with her boyfriend and another friend and said there were quite a few international students who also visited New York City, but flew instead of driving. As a result of the extreme weather, and KCI being closed, their flights were delayed and they could not return by Monday as they had been hoping.
“Some of my classes did not have many people, since they were still in New York,” Wang said.
Wang said her drive back was not ideal either.
“The weather was very cold, and the wind was very strong, and it was a little foggy on the road,” Wang said. The fog caused some difficulties, as it limited their vision in the car.”
She said they had not checked the weather before starting the drive back, as they wanted to be as fast as possible in order to be back in time to attend their Monday classes.