Winter storm watch in effect Saturday evening through Sunday

Friday, February 28, 2014 | 6:06 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — A winter storm watch is in effect for mid-Missouri from Saturday evening to late Sunday night. 

Columbia residents can expect 5 to 9 inches of snow and sleet from the early March snowstorm, according to the National Weather Service. Precipitation will begin as freezing rain Saturday night, turning into sleet and then snow Sunday. An accumulation of up to one-tenth of an inch of ice is possible. Winds will be out of the north at 10 to 15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph.

Meteorologist Ben Miller said that although the snow will cease Sunday, extremely bitter temperatures will stick around. Although highs would normally be in the 20s and 30s this time of year, Miller said that's not the case for this winter. Early forecasts suggest that temperatures Sunday and Monday are not expected to leave the teens, with wind chills as low as 15 below zero Monday morning. These frigid temperatures will make the salt less effective in melting snow, which could create more hazardous road conditions.

If a snow day is called Monday for Columbia Public Schools, it will be considered a freebie for school calendar purposes. School will still end this year June 5, district spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. If a snow day is called for Tuesday, then school would end June 6. Baumstark said Friday there are too many factors still in play to say when the district will make a decision about canceling school Monday.

MU will announce late Sunday afternoon if Monday classes will be canceled.

Pat Guinan, state climatologist at MU, said in a release that this February could be the coldest since 1979. Preliminary data show a state average of 25 degrees — 9 degrees below normal.

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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