COLUMBIA — Boone County is bracing for another round of severe winter weather this weekend.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch in most mid-Missouri counties from late Saturday night through Sunday evening.
Between 5 and 8 inches of snow are expected, with higher amounts possible locally. Winds will be from the north at 10 to 20 mph, gusting up to 30 mph.
The storm could begin with rain late Saturday, changing to snow as colder air builds southward, according to the weather service.
The rain might be heavy at times, especially after midnight, and will "greatly reduce visibility at times."
"Snow will have the potential to not only accumulate on roads but accumulate at a rapid pace," the weather service's report said.
There is also the possibility of thundersnow along the I-70 corridor late Saturday night, the weather service reported in its Friday forecast discussion.
The storm system could produce thundersnow beginning in mid-Missouri late Saturday night and moving into the St. Louis metropolitan area early Sunday morning.
Missouri Department of Transportation Maintenance Superintendent Mike Belt said MoDOT was gearing up for the storm.
"We have started calling all our operators to let them know that the storm is coming," he said.
"We have the chemicals and salt ready and will be heading to the roads as soon as the snow begins to fall."
The city's Public Works Department is monitoring the conditions and posting updates on its Facebook page.
If the area gets closer to 8 inches of snow, it might break the record for 24-hour snowfall Saturday and Sunday.
The record 24-hour snowfall for March 23 was set in 1974 when 6.1 inches fell on Columbia. The record snowfall for March 24 was also 6.1 inches, which occurred in 1912.
A March 24 and 25 accumulation of 9.4 inches in 1978 was the fourth-highest snowfall on record for the month.
The potential for snow means about 100 Boone Electric Cooperative employees are on alert. Heavy snowstorms are capable of ruining power lines in multiple ways. Weak tree limbs and wires bouncing into each other and then burning out can cause outages.
These were the main reasons for the widespread power outages February 26. Around 15,000 of the cooperative's members, almost half their customers, lost power. The first outage was reported around 1 a.m. and the last customer's power was restored at around midnight two days later.
There is no way for Boone Electric to know how power lines and customers will be affected in the upcoming storm, but Christi Miller, a communications specialist at the cooperative, said they are prepared.
"Our system finds outages quickly. Our website has a fantastic outage map and our Facebook is constantly being updated," Miller said. "It's just a process and a matter of time."
Both the outage map and a Facebook link are available at booneelectric.coop. The website also lists locations for warm shelters and shows where crews are working.
To report an outage, call 449-4181. Miller encourages callers to be patient if the line is busy and to continue calling.