COLUMBIA — The winter storm that began Wednesday afternoon had dumped a little more than 8 inches of snow in Columbia by early Thursday morning. City snowplow crews were making progress on priority routes and preparing to move into residential areas.
The snowfall was expected to continue through the morning hours and taper off by early Thursday afternoon, giving way to sunny skies but extreme cold as evening approaches, according to the National Weather Service.
The heaviest snow from the storm fell along the Interstate 70 corridor, where the National Weather Service in St. Louis reported accumulations of 7 to 10 inches.
The weather service reported total snowfall of 8.2 inches by 6:30 a.m. at Columbia Regional Airport.
The storm poses a challenge for the city's Public Works Department. Snowplow drivers thus far have focused on making priority routes "safe and passable," department spokeswoman Jill Stedem said.
Stedem said plows would move into residential areas around midday, then switch back and forth from priority routes to residential areas.
Stedem said the city has more than 500 miles of roads to cover. “We plan to stay out for the next couple of days getting this cleaned up.”
City crews are using salt to treat the snow, but if road conditions get too cold, icy or slushy they will use cinders for added traction and melting if necessary.
“Our No. 1 priority is making roads safe and passable, so if that means we need to use cinders we’ll add them back in,” Stedem said.
Flights at the Columbia Regional Airport were canceled today, but they were scheduled to resume on Friday morning.*
Buses are running on the emergency weather schedule every hour instead of every 40 minutes. Stedem said buses are slightly delayed from the one-hour schedule; people can check Twitter for updates on the timing of the bus stops.
Stedem said trash and recycling crews also have been delayed.
The National Weather Service forecast called for a high temperature of 22 in Columbia on Thursday, but northwest winds of 8 to 10 mph were expected to produce bitter wind chills. The low temperature overnight was expected to be around 2 degrees.
The weather service is forecasting a high near 21 on Friday, with a south wind between 10 and 13 mph. The next chance of accumulating snow is expected to arrive on Sunday.