August 23, 2014

Multiple rounds of winter weather could make travel difficult Friday and Saturday

The National Weather Service is predicting several waves of winter weather will sweep Missouri in the next 36 hours, with the worst Friday night through Saturday morning.

This graphic shows the snowfall total predictions of the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.

This graphic shows the snowfall total predictions of the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill.

Some light snow Friday morning could be accompanied by a light glazing of ice starting in the Ozarks and moving through the northern half of Missouri through Friday.

Around midnight Saturday morning heavy snow will begin that will leave 3-5 inches of accumulation across northern Missouri, with a swath of up to a tenth-of-an-inch of ice stretching from north of Joplin to about St. Louis.

The Weather Service says it will be a good time not to get out if you don’t have to and recommends watching for updates. Winter weather warning products are being issued for most of the state.

For information for your area, visit these NWS pages.In northwest and western Missouri:  Kansas City (Pleasant Hill)

In northeast and eastern Missouri:  St. Louis

In southwest Missouri:  Springfield

In southeast Missouri:  Paducah, KY

Scotland and Clark counties:  Davenport, IA

WEATHER UPDATE: Ten killed on Missouri roads since Friday morning due to weather, Highway Patrol says

UPDATE 3:30pm:  The HighwayPatrol reports an accident at 8:43 this morning in Henry County has left a Deepwater man dead.  80-year-old William Dulaban’s vehicle slid out of control across Route Z and struck a tree.  He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

UPDATE:  A woman has died in a traffic crash in Raytown early Saturday morning.  Police are investigating the rollover accident.  The name of the victim has not been released. 

The Highway Patrol reports eight people have died in weather-related accidents on Missouri roads since shortly before 7:30 Friday morning.

Captain Tim Hull says the Highway Patrol staged 4-wheel drive trucks like this one to be ready to respond to traffic crashes and to assist motorists during recent winter weather.

Captain Tim Hull says the Highway Patrol staged 4-wheel drive trucks like this one to be ready to respond to traffic crashes and to assist motorists during recent winter weather.

Captain Tim Hull with the Highway Patrol says temperatures were at or just below freezing yesterday and caused moisture on roads to freeze. Sleet and freezing rain also fell followed by snow, making for hazardous driving conditions.

“The Patrol … we’ve investigated 7 traffic fatalities which have been weather-related in the past 24 hours,” Hull told Missourinet at 9 a.m. “Another agency … Clay County investigated one. So we’re aware that we’ve had eight thus far due to weather-related issues.”

He calls those deaths “tragic.”

“Especially this time of year … that’s eight families, eight extended families that are going to suffer the loss of a loved one forever. That’s eight individuals who are not going to get to experience Christmas this year with their families.” Hull says, “Our hope is that motorists will learn from these situations … if you don’t have to get out, don’t, in these kinds of weather conditions.”

Hull says among the fatal accidents and numerous other crashes throughout Missouri in the last 24 hours, there have been common themes.

“Going just a little bit too fast for the conditions or not paying close enough to the conditions,” Hull says, “and then before you know it the vehicle loses control and goes off one side of the roadway or the other and strikes and object or overturns, or in a couple of cases … they slid and crossed through the median and struck another vehicle or a vehicle struck them because they were in the wrong lane.”

Hull says he hopes that total doesn’t increase, but he says more crashes have occurred as snow fell in much of the state Saturday morning with totals as high as 9.7″ in St. Charles County.

According to Patrol crash reports, in an accident at 7:55 Friday morning in Camden County a Camdenton woman, 42-year-old Karla Brown, died when her vehicle slid on ice and traveled into the path of a van going the opposite direction. At 9:35 on Highway 63 south of Rolla 16-year-old Charity Adams of Licking died when the car she was riding in went out of control on ice, hit a guard rail and flipped. In Osage County 68-year-old Jerome Hinrichs of Wildwood was killed when his vehicle left the road, hit a tree and rolled along Highway 50 at about 11:45.

Also at 11:45 in the Patrol says 19-year-old Cody Ricker of Holts Summit was killed when he lost control of his vehicle and it crossed the median of Highway 54 in Callaway County, where it was hit by a van going the opposite direction. On Highway 100 in Franklin County a Herman woman, 23-year-old Whitney Gabathuler, was killed when just before noon another driver lost control of his car on an icy bridge and it struck the front of hers. The driver of the other vehicle was seriously injured.

Seven vehicles including three tractor-trailers were involved in a crash at 4:50 Friday afternoon on Interstate 44 west of Halltown that left a Joplin man dead. Witnesses said the chain-reaction collision happened when one car swerved to avoid a previous accident. In the resulting pileup, 44-year-old Matthew Cozad of Joplin was killed, one person was seriously injured and several sustained minor injuries.

A St. Louis woman died in a four-vehicle accident at about 7:30 Friday evening on I-44 in St. Louis County. The Patrol says Margie Oshaughnessy was driving east in the westbound lanes of the Interstate when her car was struck head-on by another vehicle, causing a chain-reaction. The driver of the car that hit hers was seriously injured.

Clay County authorities say icy conditions also caused an accident in Kearney that killed the driver of a truck transporting propane just after 9:00 Friday morning. The name and age of the victim in that crash have not been released.

Thundersnow caught on video at Missourinet headquarters

Thundersnow has been reported in several parts of Missouri during a winter storm that continues to hit Missouri. This video of it was recorded at the Missourinet in Jefferson City, Mo. at Learfield Communications. The lightening flash can be seen at about 15 seconds into the video, and the rumble of thunder was audible for more than a minute after the flash.

Thundersnow is a rare weather occurrence that happens when snow falls instead of rain in a strong upward motion within a cold sector of a front.  A unique aspect of thundersnow is that the snowfall acts as an acoustic suppressor of the thunder, meaning it can be heard many miles away.  Weather experts say thundersnow often produces snowfall rates in the range of 2 to 4 inches per hour.

Winter storm closes I-29 and causes other traffic hazards

The Missouri Department of Transportation says I-29 in northwest Missouri will remain closed through this afternoon.

Click on the link to go to MODOT’s traveler information map.

The interstate is closed from St. Joseph north to the Iowa border. Transportation Department Maintenance Engineer Tim Chojnacki says the conditions forced plow drivers to stop operations during the overnight.

“Snow has moved out. We’re still seeing some blowing of snow, but we are treating (the highway) now. I don’t have an exact time but I would think sometime this afternoon we could get that reopen.”

On I-29 and in other locations, highways have been closed this morning due to traffic accidents. Chojnacki says once a scene is cleared it can take a while for plows to get the road opened again.

Highway Patrol Captain Tim Hull says those accidents were likely related to the weather.

“They may not have started off weather-related … might have just been a vehicle sliding off the roadway or getting stuck on the roadway and then a crash happening behind them … but a lot of that’s due to being weather-related. There’s a lot of areas where tractor-trailer trucks have become stuck and therefore the roadway is blocked and that was the reason that they closed I-29 down earlier this morning.”

Some motorists became stranded along I-29 by the storm and Hull says troopers are out looking for them and offering assistance. The American Red Cross has also opened some warming centers for stranded motorists and those who have lost power.

“For instance in St. Joseph the Ramada in there at I-29, the First Christian Church in Mound City is the whole county one and the United Methodist Church in Atchison County there in Rockport is the shelter for those people who are stranded and need some place temporary to go to until the highway gets cleared off.”

Chojnacki says most of the roads in north Missouri are covered by some combination of snow, slush and perhaps ice, and the wind is exacerbating that.

“Once the precipitation stops you may still see covered roads for a while until the winds die down and we can be comfortable that those roads will stay mostly clear.”

Both the Transportation Department and the Patrol are urging motorists in northwest Missouri not to get out unless absolutely necessary.

Chojnacki says, “The travel is extremely dangerous. Not just the snow but the blowing wind is creating visibility problems and making it very hazardous to drive. If you do not have to go anywhere, stay home, let us get the roads opened up and things will be better this evening and tomorrow morning.

The Transportation Department is updating its traveler information map with closings and other information, and the Patrol offers its emergency phone numbers for people needing assistance, at (800) 525-5555 or *55 from a cellular phone.

Winter storm on its way to Missouri

A winter storm will sweep across the midwest Wednesday and into Thursday morning. States north of Missouri will see snowfall, areas south and west of Missouri will get more thunderstorms and rain.

The National Weather Service has updated its snowfall predictions for the storm that is expected to reach Missouri Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

In Missouri, National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Bowman says the heaviest snowfall will be in northwestern Missouri.

“We’re probably looking on the order of 3 to maybe upwards of 7 inches, maybe 4, upwards of 8 depending on how things play out. Snow amounts are going to be generally lesser as you progress to the south and southeast. For the Kansas City area it looks like a solid 1 to 3 with the heaviest amounts across the northwestern part of the Kansas City metro area, so northern Platte County … into southeastern Jackson County. Over toward Kirksville across northern Missouri probably in the 2 to 4, 3 to 5 inch range for snowfall and then amounts again trail off as you go south, so towards Columbia maybe half an inch of snow?”

The Weather Service says the storm will also pack strong northwest winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, gusting as high as 45 miles per hour that could cause drifting snow and create “blizzard like” conditions.

“There are going to be periods of time where the strong winds combine with the snow to create visibilities on the order of a quarter-mile or less intermittently through the duration of the storm.

There will also be some sleet or freezing rain as temperatures drop and rain transitions over to snow.

“That’s going to quickly move from west-to-east across mainly northern Missouri … don’t expect to have much in the way of any accumulation from sleet or any frozen precipitation.”

Captain Tim Hull says Missouri didn’t have much of a winter last year, and people tend to forget how to drive on snow and ice.

“We always take this opportunity to remind everybody before we start seeing the snow and ice fly to make sure that they’re prepared … their vehicle’s prepared, they’re mentally prepared, to operate that vehicle in these kinds of driving conditions.”

The Department of Transportation says its crews in Northwest Missouri are ready.

“We’ve got our equipment all calibrated and checked and all of our supplies are stocked and the employees are on alert. We’re basically watching the weather just like everyone else is and we are ready to go when the situation arises.”

Bowman says temperatures in the wake of the system will be much colder on Thursday.

“They’ll struggle through the day on Thursday and maybe by the late afternoon, parts of western Missouri from Kansas City southward to Paola, Kansas or Butler, Missouri might warm up into the lower 30s but elsewhere it’s going to stay in the 20s through the duration of the storm.”

For the latest information, watches and warnings, visit the website of the National Weather Service office for your area:

Kansas City (Pleasant Hill)

St. Louis

Springfield

Paducah, KY