COLUMBIA — As much as 8 inches of snow is expected to pummel Columbia and the surrounding area by Sunday night. Despite the forecast, though, the organizers of the True/False Film Fest have promised that all screenings and events will continue as planned.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the area Saturday that went into effect at 6 p.m.
A mixture of snow and sleet was expected to fall on Columbia overnight, starting around 9 p.m., said Jayson Gosselin, a meteorologist for the weather service in St. Louis. The wintry mix will turn into snow around 6 a.m. Sunday. By Sunday night, up to 8 inches of accumulated snow is expected before the storm tapers off before midnight.
But the ominous forecast won't cause any True/False cancellations, said Jessica Anania, the festival's press liaison. The festival has already organized "special ops" teams to work alongside the city to help clear sidewalks and alleys surrounding the venues.
In addition, festival organizers have been in constant communication with the city to ensure that visitors have access to the venues, she said.
"The festival will go on no matter what," Anania said.
This latest winter storm comes just one month after the city was blanketed with snow, causing dangerous road conditions and multiple accidents.
Gosselin said this storm is different because the multiple types of precipitation will make road conditions harder to predict.
The winter storm is moving in from southern California and will cover most of Missouri in snow. This could make travel especially perilous for festival fans traveling from out of town.
In St. Louis, a mixture of freezing rain and sleet is expected to start falling Saturday, turning into a sleet and snow mixture by Sunday, which could cause dangerous road conditions, Gosselin said. Kansas City is expected to receive up to 8 inches of snow by Sunday.
Anania said that at this point she hasn't heard of and doesn't expect any cancellations among the directors, writers and production crews visiting the festival.
In Columbia, the storm will be accompanied by temperatures in the single digits overnight Saturday and into Sunday, the last day of the festival. The temperature will fall below zero by Sunday night, according to the weather service's forecast.
Northeast winds will reach up to 16 mph throughout the weekend with wind chill dropping as low as 16 below zero by Sunday night, Gosselin said.
The wind could make clearing the roads especially difficult, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.
MoDOT has issued a no-travel advisory through Sunday night and has asked that drivers stay off the roads unless it's an absolute emergency.
"Blowing snow and high winds make it very difficult for MoDOT crews to clear roads,” the agency said in a Saturday news release. “If there are no other vehicles on the roadways, we have a much better chance of making progress so traffic can get moving again."
Columbia Public Works issued a statement asking drivers to move cars off priority routes by 9 p.m. Saturday and for those who live on residential streets to move their cars into driveways. The crews will begin clearing streets at 7 p.m.
For the most up-to-date information about road conditions in the city, visit CoMoSnow.com.
MoDOT has begun updating a map of road conditions across the state for travelers on major highways.
Supervising editor is Edward Hart.