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A major winter storm dropped around a foot of snow on the Wichita area Wednesday and early Thursday, with amounts of 11 to 14 inches reported across south central Kansas. The heaviest part of the storm moved in around 3:30 Thursday morning, and residents heard thunder and lightning as a mix of heavy snow and sleet fell across the area.
Roads quickly became snowpacked, and street crews rushed to keep up, but a number of vehicles were bogged down in snow on major streets and highways. Even snow plows and emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks got stuck as they responded to calls.
Accidents or stalled vehicles were reported on Kellogg and I-135 throughout the morning. Officials were discouraging travel and urging people to stay home if they didn't have to be out.
The storm forced a number of schools, government offices and businesses to close. The city of Wichita and Sedgwick County kept their offices open, but the 18th Judicial District closed down court activity. Butler and Harvey Counties closed their courthouses and county offices. The Wichita school district and Wichita State University cancelled classes, along with a number of other schools in the area.
Westar Energy reported no major power outages as of late morning. There were some small outages in areas near Newton, El Dorado, Emporia and Parsons, but a Westar spokesman estimated that there were only around 100 customers without power.
The National Weather Service reported 11 to 13 inches of snow for the Wichita area. Reno County had a report of 14 inches at one location, with whiteout conditions during the storm.