BY SUSAN THACKER
Break out the poodle skirts, because the fifties are coming back.
The National Weather Service predicts Great Bend will see high temperatures return to the 50s by Monday, a pleasant change from this week. Not only was the temperature in single digits, Great Bend received 13 inches of snowfall on Tuesday, according to WeatherStreet.com.
Many people spent Wednesday morning digging out. Great Bend employees from the street department were back on the roads around 4 a.m., Public Works Director Don Craig said. They started treating icy intersections over the noon hour on Tuesday and worked into the evening.
City employee Douglas A. Disque, 46, was injured Wednesday morning while clearing snow from the intersection of South Main Street and Railroad Avenue. The Barton County Sheriff’s Office reports he was operating a 1992 Caterpillar loader and struck the railroad tracks with a blade. The abrupt stop caused Disque to strike the front windshield of the loader. He was transported to Great Bend Regional Hospital by Great Bend Emergency Medical Service.
Craig said Disque’s injuries were relatively minor, but included a cracked rib.
The loader was also damaged. The city is renting another one for now, but will try to repair the broken machine.
"We’re keeping busy," Craig said Wednesday of the public works employees. Whether they were cleaning roads or checking water wells: "Everybody’s pushing snow."
Schools, senior centers and area churches remained closed Wednesday. Emergency Aid and the Food Bank didn’t open, and public transportation such as the Mini Bus wasn’t rolling.
It’s rare for Great Bend schools to miss a day because of snow, and two snow days in a row is rarer still. But administrators at Unified School District 428 made the decision Tuesday afternoon to take yet another snow day, realizing it would be impossible to have driveways cleared by Wednesday morning. School was also canceled due to weather on Feb. 1.
The Barton County Sheriff’s Office received reports of non-injury accidents and vehicles in the snow Tuesday. Two vehicles collided at 11:45 a.m. on South U.S. 281, at the Barton-Stafford county line. A UPS truck went into the ditch at 167 South U.S. 281 over the noon hour, but there was no damage. A pickup traveling east on U.S. 56 lost control at a curve and struck a building at the Dundee Co-op, causing grain to spill on the ground, at 12:18 p.m.
A Barton County man contacted the sheriff’s office at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to report a vehicle ran his wife’s van off the road in the 500 block of West Barton County Road, about four miles west of Fuller Brush. Her vehicle was stuck but not damaged.
At 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, a vehicle was stuck in the ditch on NE 10 Ave. and NE 20 Road. It was not damaged and was removed by the owner.
But things calmed down on Wednesday, Sheriff Greg Armstrong said. Roads were cleared and it was no longer unsafe to drive.
It’s not known how many traffic accidents can be attributed to the weather. In Great Bend, a vehicle driven by Dave Klepper slid into a fire hydrant at Broadway and McKinley from Broadway at 11:47 a.m. Tuesday. Although the damaged hydrant had to be removed, a city employee explained that this did not result in a spray of ice-cold water, because the shutoff valve remained intact.
A car slid into the ditch somewhere on 12th Street at 4:47 p.m. Tuesday, and was still there shortly before midnight. By early Wednesday all roads in Great Bend were snow-packed. A vehicle became stuck in the snow in the 700 block of 10th Street at 6:26 a.m., and was pulled out by another citizen.
The National Weather Service reports today will be sunny in Great Bend, with a high around 29 degrees; tonight will be partly cloudy with a low around 13 degrees.
By Friday the high should be near 36, Saturday and Sunday will hit the 40s, and expect happy days in the 50s on Monday and Tuesday. That doesn’t mean the end of winter, however. The website for Dry Day Long-Range Weather Forecasts predicts Great Bend temperatures will be back in single digits on Feb. 18 and 19.