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Blizzard conditions, Red Flag warnings announced for Kansas

Even as the weather is beginning to warm up, winter has decided it is not quite done yet.

Current weather forecasts predict blizzard conditions in much of Northwest Kansas today through Saturday. The region could see snowfall from one to seven inches with hurricane force wind gusts up to 80 mph.

Travel is expected to be dangerous and at times impossible throughout much of Northwestern Kansas including Goodland, Colby and Hill City. Damage to power lines may occur. High winds may cause blow over of high profile vehicles. Some roads are expected to drift shut.

Kansas Division of Emergency Management officials are urging Kansans to avoid travel if possible. If you must travel, include a car emergency kit in your vehicle and be sure to alert someone that you are departing and advise them of your route and expected arrival time. Let this person know when you have arrived safely at your destination.

A car emergency kit should weather appropriate clothing; bottled water for everyone; nonperishable, high-energy snack items; flashlights and batteries; a battery-operated radio; blankets; a compact snow shovel; extra medications; signal flares and other emergency supplies to allow you to survive until help can arrive. It is also advisable to fill your gas tank before you start, check engine fluid levels and tire pressure, and to make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

If you stay home, it is a good idea to make sure your home emergency kit is well-stocked, too, due to the possibility of power failures.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management has activated the State Emergency Operations Center to monitor weather conditions and coordinate state assistance as requested. The Kansas National Guard has five Stranded Motorist Assistance Teams on alert to patrol major roadways, if needed.

To keep abreast of current weather conditions, go to www.weather.gov <http://www.weather.gov> . For more winter weather preparedness tips, go online to www.ksready.gov, www.ready.gov or call your county emergency management office.

State road and travel conditions may be accessed at the Kansas Department of Transportation KanDrive website www.kandrive.org or on a mobile device, go to 511mm.ksdot.org. You may also call 5-1-1 from any phone.

Information on winter driving tips is available from the Kansas Highway Patrol at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org/press/news_info/winter_drive.html . You may also follow the Kansas Highway Patrol on Facebook and Twitter at www.kansashighwaypatrol.org.

Elsewhere in the state, high winds are expected in most regions with gusts up to 50-60 mph. These winds, coupled with dry conditions, have created very high to extreme fire risks across multiple regions prompting Red Flag Warnings for fire risk from the National Weather Service for portions of South Central, Central and Eastern Kansas in an area that includes Emporia, Fredonia, Hutchinson, and Manhattan.

Additional severe weather risk is expected from early Friday afternoon through early evening across the eastern third of Kansas with the possibility of severe thunderstorms, 1-2 inch hail, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes.