Missouri’s Transportation Department is mobilizing for an expected storm which is predicted to leave up to three-quarters of an inch of ice on the ground.
Much of southern and central Missouri could be affected by the weather event which will begin in the southern region early Friday morning.
MODoT’s Randy Aulbur says the agency is at its highest level of emergency preparedness. “We classify our storms on a scale from one-to-four, one being the most severe” said Aulbur. “This is a type one event for us.”
All 1,500 MODoT trucks statewide will be in operation for the duration of the storm. The agency says it’s been working the past two days to treat roadways with chemicals.
Beginning Thursday evening, 3,500 responders will work 12-hour shifts for as long as needed. Aulbur says the length of its emergency operations will depend on what the weather does.
“A couple of degrees makes a big difference on how this icing event returns back to a rain event. If the icing continues through Saturday into Sunday, it means that our operation is going to continue through that same amount of period.”
Right now, temperatures are expected to warm up and alleviate icy road conditions by Sunday morning, if not sooner in most of the affected areas of the state. Aulbur says the department’s biggest focus will be taking care of interstate highways and major roads.
“We’ll look at any of our interstates statewide” said Aulbur. “That’s where our primary focus is going to be. Then the next scale back from that is our major routes. We’ve got major route corridors throughout the state that we classify. And it’s really heavily driven by the traffic volumes on them.”
MODoT says it’s working closely with the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to plan detours in case an interstate or major roadway has to be closed.
At more than 34,000 miles, Missouri has the seventh largest state maintained road system in the country, largely due to an arrangement which places the state in charge of county roads. Those are typically the lettered roadways.
MODoT’s Linda Wilson-Horne says as many of those roads as possible will be treated by the times the ice storm hits.
She says it’s possible some roads receiving treatment will have the chemicals washed away Saturday if the temperature rises above freezing while rain continues. The National Weather Service is predicting waves of light precipitation from Friday through Saturday night.
Localized road information is available by dialing (888)-ASK-MODOT (275-6636).