Wind chills well below 0 forecast for Lawrence this weekend; city preparing

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Emergency personnel encourage Lawrence community members to prepare for the bitter cold coming this weekend.

Douglas County will be under a wind chill watch from Friday evening through Tuesday morning. With the low temperatures and strong winds coming in, people should prepare to shelter as much as they can and bundle up. Frostbite can hit within minutes of being outside.

Currently, Lawrence is forecast to get about half an inch of snow beginning Thursday night into Friday morning. A light glaze of ice is also possible for Douglas County. 

Friday’s forecast shows a high of 17° and a nighttime low of 2°. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph are possible. A high of 7° is in the forecast for Saturday, and the wind chill that afternoon will likely drop off into the -5° to -10° range. 

Sunday’s high temperature is forecast to be 2°, and wind chills Sunday night could drop to -26°. As of Thursday afternoon, the NWS forecast also showed a 40% chance of snow Sunday afternoon and evening. (See links to severe weather resources below.)

The city has announced plans to open the Amtrak station in East Lawrence Thursday night for anyone who needs shelter. Read more about that and other sheltering options at this link.

City staff members Thursday were working to prepare for temperatures to continue dropping. Lawrence Municipal Services and Operations is responsible for plowing snow and treating streets.

Lawrence Municipal Services and Operations crews pose for a photo. “As we head into more potential winter weather, our crews will continue prepping for whatever comes next,” the city wrote in a Facebook post Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (City of Lawrence/Contributed photo)

Michael Leos, a spokesperson for MSO, said crews on Thursday were addressing some residential areas that needed additional plowing and treatment.

In preparation for this weekend, Leos said crews Thursday were performing vehicle maintenance, restocking materials, and making brine to pretreat surfaces before icing. Additionally, the MSO team is holding winter weather safety reviews to ensure employees stay warm and safe.

“As always, drastic changes in the weather can put stress on city infrastructure,” Leos said via email. “If any leaks or breaks are identified during these winter weather events, our team is immediately notified and dispatches a crew to investigate as soon as possible. We will continue to monitor for any issues as we head into the cold weekend.”

Joshua Taylor, Douglas County emergency management specialist, said he recommends community members refer to the “winter ready” section of this weekend. The Federal Emergency Management Agency website offers tips for responding to frostbite and hypothermia, preventing house heating fires and more.

For households, recommends closing doors in rooms not being used as well as keeping window blinds open to the sunlight and closed when it’s dark outside to preserve heat. Opening up cabinet doors and running warm or hot water down sinks can help with heat flow to pipes.

It also says people should keep emergency supply kits with jumper cables, blankets, ice scrapers and more in their cars.

Kevin Bryant, CEO of Evergy, said in a news release Thursday that he’s expecting high customer demand this weekend. Freezing temperatures put a strain on mechanical equipment, potentially resulting in a malfunction that causes a power outage, according to the release.

Among other precautions, “Evergy power plants will have extra staff available for cold-weather operations, taking steps such as keeping coal reserves from freezing, preventing ice from blocking water intakes for steam units and monitoring renewable generation sites for icing,” according to the release.

Evergy customers should also note that the company does not disconnect people for missing their payments when temperatures are below its cold weather rule threshold, which is 35° in Kansas. Customers who are behind on their bills can find information about financial assistance at

Get warm

The city is offering its recreational facilities as places to get warm during their open hours (and notes that all guests must follow facility rules).

Outside of those daytime hours, Misty Bosch-Hastings, homeless programs coordinator for the city, told Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday that if police and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical responders are unable to give someone a ride out to the Lawrence Community Shelter, city staff members are on call 24/7.

The Lawrence Community Shelter is available to stay warm overnight, and it can accommodate pets.

If the shelter hits capacity, staff members will give people rides to the Santa Fe train depot. Read more details at this link.

The shelter can be reached by the Route 1 bus from downtown. It leaves the stop at Seventh and Vermont streets starting at 6 a.m., and the last downtown stop is at 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. See the full route and schedule at this link. Buses are free to ride for 2024.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact city staff members Bosch-Hastings at 785-760-1481 or Cicely Thornton at 785-813-9483.

Recreational facility details:

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times
Lawrence Community Building

115 W. 11th St. (just west of 11th and Massachusetts streets)

Regular hours:
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times
East Lawrence Recreation Center

1245 E. 15th St. (just east of 15th Street and Haskell Avenue)

Regular hours:
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

Google Streetview
Holcom Park Recreation Center

2700 W. 27th St. (just east of 27th Street and Lawrence Avenue)

Regular hours:
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector
Sports Pavilion Lawrence

100 Rock Chalk Lane (~1 mile north of Sixth Street and George Williams Way on the far northwestern edge of town)

Regular hours:
5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays
1 to 9 p.m. Sundays

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

Severe weather resources

National Weather Service local office (Topeka):
 Find the latest weather forecast info and severe weather advisories for the Lawrence area at this link.

In the event of rapidly changing severe weather, such as tornadoes, the NWS posts frequent updates on Twitter, @NWSTopeka. You do not need a Twitter account to see tweets from NWS.

NWS is also on Facebook,

 Call 785-234-2592 to hear the forecast.

Douglas County Emergency Management:
Follow @DgCoEM on Twitter or Douglas County, KS- Emergency Management on Facebook,

Sign up to receive emergency alerts at

Find lots of tips on severe weather and other emergency preparedness on DgCoEM’s website at

Report storm damage (for non-emergencies only, and after storm danger has passed) by calling the nonemergency dispatch line at 785-843-0250 or 785-832-7509.

Evergy outages:
Check the status of power outages on the Evergy outage map,

Report a power outage at, or call 800-544-4857.

For down powerlines, call 911.

City of Lawrence snow info:
The city has snow information and a map at that shows information about road conditions and snow plow locations. The city typically begins snow and ice control for residential roadways when 2 or more inches of snowfall or icing occurs.

Air quality:
Check the current air quality index in Lawrence and elsewhere through AirNow,

Latest Lawrence news:


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