Columbia remained in deep freeze Thursday, and the grim forecast prompted Columbia Public Schools to cancel classes again for Friday. Despite below-zero wind chill and blowing snow, residents were busy either clearing sidewalks or playing in the drifts.
About 2.7 inches of snow fell on the city by 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The weekend should bring more low temperatures. The weather service expects Friday's high to be a mere 5 degrees, with a wind chill as low as 20 below zero and a chance of flurries. Saturday's forecast looks similar.
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. It 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 kept snowplow crews out all day and into the night Thursday, said Public Works Operations Manager Mary Ellen Lea.
Snowplows worked to clear first- and second-priority and critical streets based on the map that Public Works has developed over the years, Lea said. All 17 snowplow drivers have been working 12-hour shifts to clear the streets.
City buses were operating on the emergency weather schedule because of the snowfall and extreme cold. All buses departed from Wabash Station at the top of each hour and departed from route end points on the half-hour. Transportation manager Ken Koopmans said there were no problems with buses being unable to drive their normal routes and the only difference was scheduling.
A news release from the health department designated several businesses as "warming centers" 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 story.