Second snowstorm adds nearly 10 inches, leaves thousands without power, Internet

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | 7:22 p.m. CST; updated 11:59 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 27, 2013
A snow storm that passed through Columbia Monday night and Tuesday brought wet, heavy snow that downed power lines and caused Internet outages throughout the city.

COLUMBIA — Round two of a wintry deluge hit Columbia Monday night. Continuing into Tuesday, the winter weather caused widespread power outages, Internet losses and business and school closures, including MU.

Road crews encountered few complications plowing streets after the snow began Monday night because there was not much traffic on the roads. 

Unlike last week, MU, Columbia College and Stephens College will reopen after just one day of closure, but Columbia Public Schools' doors will remain shut Wednesday.

By 6 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported 9.8 inches of new snow at Columbia Regional Airport, where American Airlines canceled all six of its flights between Columbia and Chicago O'Hare and Dallas Fort-Worth International airports on Tuesday.

Total snow depth climbed to 14 inches, including the snow already on the ground from Thursday's storm, forecaster Gary Schmocker said. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches is expected by Wednesday evening.

The unusually saturated snow, which weighed down tree limbs and depressed power lines, led to thousands of power losses, said Chris Rohlfing, Boone Electric member services manager.

As of 3:45 p.m., 11,581 customers of Boone Electric Cooperative had no power. The first outages were reported around 4:30 a.m. and losses grew throughout the day. Many of those outages affected residents north of Interstate 70 near Range Line Street. Crews from Intercounty Electric Cooperative joined Boone Electric crews to help get power restored.

Customers of Columbia Water and Light also experienced power losses. The largest block of outages took place between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m. Fifteen hundred residents were without power as of 8:30 a.m., spokesman Steven Sapp said.

As of 3:45 p.m., there was one small outage left that affected 11 people in an area off West Broadway near Stadium Boulevard, said Connie Kacprowicz, a spokesperson from Columbia Water and Light. That issue was resolved around 5 p.m., meaning all power in Columbia was restored, according to a news release from the department. About 4,000 people in Columbia were affected throughout the day, she said.

Clad in heavy coats and knee-high, water resistant boots, Allison Dorr and Jessica Jennings made the slushy trek from East Campus to downtown in search of a stable Internet connection.

Mediacom's Internet service wilted under the weather Monday night. At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Mediacom confirmed that the previous evening's storm severed a fiber line at about 10:20 p.m. near Camdenton, obstructing Internet connections for subscribers in Jefferson City and Columbia.

"We planned on going to Panera, but it's closed," Jennings said. "Now we're trying Lakota."

Dorr called the Internet failure a "major inconvenience."

"I think everyone planned on getting work done today, but that didn't pan out," Dorr said.

Internet service was restored around 3:30 p.m., Phyllis Peters, spokesperson for Mediacom, said.

Both women stepped cautiously through the puddles of opaque melting sludge that pooled on the surface of Ninth Street near the Missouri United Methodist Church.

"The roads are better than I thought they were going to be, but it's still hard to walk," Dorr said.

Road crews were able to plow streets with few difficulties, unlike last week when inclement weather temporarily shut down a swath of Interstate 70, led to drivers abandoning their cars on busy roads and resulted in 11 injury accidents during an 11-hour stretch.

There were few reported crashes as of noon Tuesday. By 12:45 p.m., the county public works had plowed about 50 percent of major roads. By 2:30 p.m., city road crews began plowing residential streets. Despite resuming operation, trash pick-up is one day behind and Columbia Transit's Wednesday schedule could be altered.

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Michael Williams February 26, 2013 | 10:25 p.m.

I don't understand the "inches" calculation.

At my home, the first snow did yield about 11-12 inches of the powdery stuff, agreeing with newsmedia reports.

This one gave me...max...4 inches of HEAVY wet snow. That's not close to the 9.5 inches reported above.

I'm wondering if there is a formula used to measure snow that involves a whole lot more than sticking a ruler into the snow.....such as the "inches of water" formed if the snow was melted.

Any help out there???????

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 27, 2013 | 5:37 a.m.


It probably means at the reporting station. Obviously arbitrary.

Here, starting at almost exactly 7:30 am Tuesday, we received about 5-6 inches of very dry snow, classified locally as "a dustung." :)

Our metro NOA weather station was moved from the international airport to one of the "burbs," called Johnston. Do you think anything changed as a result of that? We have a regional airport a short drive from here, but no reporting weather station.

With the dry snow and a stiff wind, I have snow up to my hoo-hoo along one side of my home but a bare front lawn.

Foecking should appreciate this. How much snow you receive in Cleveland, Ohio is considerably dependent upon whether you live east or west of the river, which bisects the metro area. I'm not sure where the NOA station is located, but if it's at Hopkins Airport (on the west side) it underestimates snowfall on the east side.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 27, 2013 | 8:09 a.m.

Ellis: To me, "snow depth" is important in two ways:

First, how deep is it? Will I have to plod through it, slide through it, fall in it, drive in it, or what? This value has physical importance, but not much else.

Second, what is the "water equivalent" of the snow fall...of much greater importance to me. I want to know the water equivalent of 12" of powder versus 4" of wet, heavy snow. Weather services usually just tell the official physical depth of snow, but the real issue should be water equivalents. I guess I'd be happier if weather services would say something like: "Today, we have 12 inches of snow on the ground, equivalent to a 2.5 inch rain".

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 27, 2013 | 10:52 a.m.

A source I recently looked at stated 10" snow makes 1" water. Do we not get wx measurements from our airport? we used to and difference between there and Columbia was most always notably significant.

I gritted my teeth again seeing the picture here,of the fellow run out of the gym into snow, in shorts and no coat. I and many huddle up in our warm gear during cold spells, then often see naturally heavy and overweight persons walking around in tea shirts or wind breakers. Then, our wx reporters waste time and confuse the issue telling us that they with math formula,factoring the wind, know how cold we "feel".

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 27, 2013 | 10:59 a.m.

Ellis - What's a hoo-hoo?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 27, 2013 | 11:09 a.m.

Snow depth and also moisture content (wet vs. dry snow), ARE important, not only for agriculture but for the potential of flooding, if there's fast melting.

Several years ago - in late OCTOBER - I was driving from Golden, Colorado to Columbia and was held up briefly while they removed an isolated snow drift from I-70. Two weeks before a geologist friend was complaining because she had been to Golden for a meeting and it was so hot!

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 27, 2013 | 11:30 a.m.


Anatomically I was referring to one's posterior; however, I've heard the term used, as a plural, to refer to female breasts.

Maybe it depends one one's sex and the snow depth.

The term is originally German, and may be properly be written as:

Der hoo-hoo (masculine)
Das hoo-hoo (feminine)
Die hoo-hoo (neuter)

(Report Comment)
frank christian February 27, 2013 | 11:52 a.m.

Ellis - More information than I needed, but, thanks!

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 27, 2013 | 1:00 p.m.

"A source I recently looked at stated 10" snow makes 1" water"

Yeah, I've seen that, too, and consider it the kind of info "experts" give to the hoi polloi so they don't have to explain it.

There can be no doubt at all that the water equivalent of our first 12 incher, very powdery and fluffy, would yield less inches of water than our second....which was much more dense.

I want water equivalents WITH details of how much my inner thighs are gonna hurt after walking across the pasture through hoohoo-deep snow.

(Report Comment)
Brendan Gibbons February 27, 2013 | 1:51 p.m.

Hi all, I'm a Missourian reporter and science nerd who took a hydrology course last semester. It's not too difficult to calculate to find out how much water is in a specific snowpack. I’ll give you a step-by-step guide here:

What you’re trying to calculate is called snow water equivalent, or SWE, and it’s depth of snow multiplied times the snow’s density (SWE = depth x density).

To calculate the depth, use a ruler or one of the many measurements the National Weather Service or other weather service have reported.

To calculate density, you will divide the weight of the snow by the volume of a container you use to measure it. You’ll need a cylinder that is evenly shaped on both sides (i.e., does not taper at one end). A film canister would do nicely. You’ll also need a small pocket scale.

Then follow these steps:

1. Weigh the empty cylinder and record the weight.
2. Fill the cylinder with snow (make sure it’s all the way full, but don’t pack it down with your fingers).
3. Weigh the cylinder again. Subtract the weight of the cylinder + snow from the weight of the empty cylinder. This will give you the snow’s mass.
4. Measure the height and diameter of the cylinder, using a ruler.
5. Divide the cylinder’s diameter in half. This is the radius.
6. Calculate the volume of the cylinder. The formula is Volume = pi x (radius squared) x height.
7. Then divide the snow’s mass by the volume of the cylinder. This is the snow’s density! It should be in a decimal form. Therefore, if you have a density of .32, the snow is 32 percent water!

Now we return to our SWE. Multiply depth x density. For example, if the snow depth is 10 inches, and you have a density of .10, the snowpack will contain the equivalent of 1 inch of water.

We have a reporter working on this for the latest snowfall, so if you choose to do this on your own, you can compare it with our numbers.

- Brendan Gibbons, Missourian reporter.

(Report Comment)

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