COLUMBIA — The city received approximately 2.7 inches of snow by 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. That was enough to keep residents busy clearing sidewalks before an expected drop in temperatures later in the afternoon.
According to the weather service, winds from the west around 22 mph, with gusts up to 32 mph, will cause blowing and drifting snow Thursday afternoon. Wind chills are expected to reach minus-15 degrees.
Between 2 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Thursday, the Boone County Fire Protection District responded to about 50 accidents countywide, Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said. The Columbia Fire Department responded to 28 injury accidents between 2 p.m. and 7 a.m. according to a news release. They responded to six injury crashes after 6 a.m. Thursday.
Most of the accidents occurred Wednesday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Blomenkamp said.
The Department of Public Works is planning to keep snowplow crews out all day and more will be sent out tonight, Public Works Operations Manager Mary Ellen Lea said.
Lea said snowplows worked to clear first- and second-priority and critical streets based on the map that Public Works has developed over the years. All 17 snowplow drivers have been working 12-hour shifts to clear the streets, Lea said.
City buses are operating on the emergency weather schedule due to the heavy snowfall. All buses depart from Wabash Station at the top of each hour and depart from route end points on the half hour. Ken Koopmans, transportation manager, said there have been no problems with buses being unable to drive their normal routes and that the only difference is scheduling.
A news release from the health department designated several businesses as "warming centers." The Public Health and Human Services Department said in the release that the following locations would be open during normal business hours for anyone to seek shelter from the cold:
- Activity and Recreation Center, 1707 W. Ash St., 874-7700
- Armory Sports and Community Center, 701 E. Ash St., 874-7466
- Boone County Government Center, 801 E. Walnut St., 886-4305
- The health department, 1005 W. Worley St., 874-7488
- Columbia Mall, 2300 Bernadette Drive, 445-8458
- Columbia Public Library, 100 W. Broadway, 443-3161
- Interfaith Day Center/Loaves and Fishes, 616 Park Ave., 875-0826
- Salvation Army, 1108 W. Ash St., 442-3229
- Salvation Army Harbor House, 602 N. Ann St., 442-1984
The Missouri United Methodist Church, 204 S. Ninth St., will be open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. through Sunday morning for anyone needing shelter, according to the release.
Missourian reporters Katherine Oriez, Allison Ziemba and Jonathan Arner contributed to this report.