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story.lead_photo.caption National Weather Service St. Louis winter storm update as of noon Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Photo by U.S. National Weather Service St. Louis

Winter Storm Gia began hitting Mid-Missouri late Friday morning, and forecasters expect the storm to stay in the area through late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

A winter storm warning is in effect through midnight Sunday for all of Mid-Missouri, including Cole, Callaway, Moniteau and Osage counties.

At noon Friday, the National Weather Service in St. Louis raised its predictions for snowfall totals from the storm for most of Mid-Missouri, as well as eastern Missouri, to 8-12 inches.

NWS officials predicted the storm would move north and east, with the heaviest snowfall taking place from Friday afternoon through Saturday morning.

This will be a heavy, wet snow, making it hard to shovel and very difficult to travel, NWS officials noted.

This could end up being the heaviest snowfall for much of the state in five years, according to the NWS.

Despite schools, businesses and other entities closing or allowing people to leave early to avoid potential hazardous road conditions, emergency officials in Jefferson City and Cole County started responding to calls of accidents around 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Cole County and Jefferson City public works crews pre-treated roads and streets Thursday and began more treating and clearing Friday afternoon.

"Whenever we have a heavy, wet snow, we usually, unfortunately, lose many mailboxes along roadways when the plows go by, especially if they're on older poles," said Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz.

Both Benz and Jefferson City Operations Division Director Britt Smith said their departments had plenty of supplies to handle this storm.

"There were a few snow events in November that took us down a little, but we refreshed those supplies," Smith said.

"The main thing is keeping our guys rested," Benz said. "We'll have the main crews out through Friday night and send them home to get some rest before they come back early Saturday to work again. We'll have a skeleton crew out overnight to work the roads."

Smith said Jefferson City crews would work in shifts.

"Our guys have supplies to where they can stay and sleep for the next couple of days," Smith said. "It takes a toll on the crews and the equipment."

If the snow stops as predicted late Saturday or early Sunday, Benz and Smith said, they hope to have almost a whole day to hit the roads to get them clear before Monday.

"We're hoping to have a lot done by then," Benz said. "The forecast is also calling for highs in the 40s starting Tuesday, so hopefully there will be a lot of melting by then."

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