COLUMBIA — Forecasters updated their predictions this afternoon for the winter storm heading toward Missouri, increasing their snowfall predictions for Columbia to a total of 5 to 7 inches for Thursday.
Columbia Public Schools will make a decision Thursday about whether to dismiss classes early because of weather.
“We typically don’t have early dismissal for this type of thing,” Assistant Superintendent Lynn Barnett said. “Of course, if it is really bad and we have to have early dismissal, we would get it out to all of the media, television and radio stations.”
The Columbia area remained on the northern edge of the storm’s expected track, and the updated forecast issued at 4 p.m. keeps Boone County under a winter storm watch, rather than a warning.
Butch Dye of the National Weather Service in St. Louis said it’s possible a winter storm warning could eventually be posted for Boone County.
“We’re keeping with a winter storm watch right now, but we’ll look at it further later tonight,” he said.
The forecast called for 2 to 3 inches of snow in the Columbia area Thursday afternoon, with an additional 3 to 4 inches accumulating Thursday night. It’s possible the snow could continue into the early hours of Friday, Dye said.
Columbia Public Schools has ways to contact parents, especially at the elementary level, Barnett said. The district would make use of its alert system, which lets parents know via text messaging about urgent school news. Parents can sign up for the alerts on the district Web site at columbia.k12.mo.us
Barnett said the district prefers to avoid early dismissals.
“It’s difficult for us to do early-outs because not all the parents have access to TV or Internet during the day and they may not get the information,” she said. “We don’t want to let kids out early if their parents aren’t home to let them in.”
In Cooper County, just west of Columbia, a winter storm warning was posted late Wednesday afternoon. The warning covered much of southwest Missouri into Kansas.
The National Weather Service in Kansas City, whose forecast area extends to the western Boone County line, said counties in the warning area could expect several bands of snow, heavy at times, to develop on Thursday and continue into the nighttime hours.