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Icy roads lead to early dismissals, accidents

Icy roads lead to early dismissals, accidents

February 1st, 2011 in News

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: McIntire Elementary School Principal Beth Houf helps students depart Monday afternoon. Schools called for an early out day to make sure students arrived home safely before forecasted ice and heavy snow hit.

All Callaway County schools were dismissed early Monday after freezing rain caused Callaway County side roads to become extremely slick.

The National Weather Service has predicted today will begin with freezing rain and sleet in the morning and heavy snow in the afternoon. Snow in Callaway County is expected to accumulate from 9 to 12 inches with steady temperatures in the mid 20s. Winds Tuesday night are expected to be from the north with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

Blowing and drifting snow is expected to be especially troublesome because of high wind accompanying the heavy accumulation of snow.

The last record daily snowfall accumulation in Central Missouri was 13 inches on Dec. 1, 2006. A total of 18 inches fell in Central Missouri on Jan 19, 1995.

Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency throughout Missouri and urged everyone to avoid unnecessary driving. He activated the Missouri National Guard to deal with potential problems, including possible power outages.

Fulton Public Schools and the Kingdom Christian Academy dismissed classes at 11 a.m. Monday. North Callaway Schools dismissed classes at 10 a.m. at the high school and at 10:15 a.m. at the elementary schools. South Callaway dismissed classes at 12:10 p.m. and New Bloomfield Schools at 12:30 p.m.

The North Callaway School basketball games in the Southern Boone Classic tournament in Ashland were postponed until Thursday night. The girls will play at 4:30 p.m. and the boys will play at 6 p.m.

The Callaway County Courthouse will be closed on today because of the snowstorm, as will the Callaway County Public Library.

Justi D. Montague, 29, New Bloomfield, was injured in a one-car accident at 10 a.m. Monday on Route J. 2.2 miles south of County Road 328.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported the accident occurred when Montague lost control of her 2000 Nissan Altima. The vehicle ran off the right side of the road, hit a tree and overturned.

She was wearing a seat belt and her vehicle was demolished, the patrol reported.

Montague sustained moderate injuries and was transported by the Callaway County Ambulance Service to University Hospital in Columbia, the patrol reported.

Michelle Kidwell, director of the Callaway County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said power outages caused by icing are not anticipated during this storm.

"About an inch of ice is needed before it poses a big risk of power outages," Kidwell said.

Ice normally accumulates on power lines causing them to sag and break. Icing on tree limbs also can fall across electrical power lines, causing outages.

"But so far we are not anticipating icing problems. But generators used by the EOC are being started and warmed up just to be ready in case they are needed," Kidwell said.

Kidwell said she is working with first responders and that efforts will be made to assist people who become stranded in snow or if their vehicle slips off the road. She said they would be taken to a warm place such as a restaurant. She would determine later if it is necessary to open an emergency shelter to house stranded motorists and people who lose electrical power that is necessary to heat homes.

Paul Winkelmann, Callaway County Highway administrator, said all county Road and Bridge employees were called to duty on Monday morning to deal with icing conditions.

"The asphalt roads were in pretty good condition, because they hold the heat and have more traffic on them. They, for the most part, were not slick, but it was a different story on gravel roads throughout the county. They became slick early. The gravel roads are colder and don't have as much traffic. They were icing over early in the day on Monday. We put chains on the snow plow trucks and called everyone in to start spreading cinders. We have graders out roughing up the surfaces of gravel roads and they are having some success," Winkelmann said.

He said an exception to the snow policy was made because of icy conditions throughout the county on secondary roads.

"We have everyone out working when it is icing. Ice is always a serious problem," Winkelmann said.

"When the expected snowfall begins to accumulate a significant amount, we plan to send a snow plow out to accompany ambulances on emergency calls," he continued. "In the past, if an ambulance became stuck, we dispatched a truck with a snow plow out to help."

Winkelmann said icy conditions this winter have cut into the county's cinder supply.

"When there is ice, we spread a lot of cinders. I am confident we will have enough cinders for this storm. We are just going to try to make it through the winter the best we can," he said.

With snowfall expected to be almost one foot deep and winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour, Winkelmann said drifting is expected to become a major problem during this storm.

"Our crews can plow a road and a short time later it is drifted shut. It is a big, big problem," he said.