Columbians awoke Sunday morning to find their town coated with a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice thanks to an early morning freezing rainstorm. For much of the day, downtown was deserted as ice and snow forced some businesses to close and made a simple stroll down the sidewalk a treacherous undertaking.
By lunchtime, the freezing rain had been replaced by light snow. Joe Pedigo of the National Weather Service in St. Louis said snow would probably fall throughout much of the day today and continue into the night. Pedigo expected 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulation by this evening but said no more snow was expected for the rest of the week.
Due to the icy conditions, many businesses in Columbia were closed Sunday, while others opened late or closed early. Among the downtown businesses closed Sunday were Quizno’s, Cool Stuff, Slackers, Maude Vintage and the Peace Nook.
Businesses that did open got fewer customers than normal.
“We opened at 9 a.m., and I haven’t had a customer yet,” said Kevin Harmon, an employee at Subway on Ninth St., at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Anthony Russomanno, an employee at Lakota Coffee Co. on Ninth Street, said Sunday is usually a busy day at Lakota but business was “a lot slower than normal.”
A few Columbians seemed unfazed by the ice and cold weather. Robert Matoska Peace, who lived in Alaska, said he had no problem with the ice and frigid temperature as he walked around town with a friend.
“We’re just hanging out and drinking some coffee,” Peace said. The weather service urged Columbians not to travel, and many seemed to take that advice to heart. As of late Sunday afternoon, the Columbia Police Department had received no reports of major car accidents.
At MU, few students were out and about. Graduate student Prabhati Bhattacharya, 25, carefully made her way across campus to University Bookstore in the late morning.
“I called the weather bureau to see what it would be like outside, but they only give you the temperature,” said Bhattacharya, who is originally from Calcutta, India. “I had no indication it would be like this.”
As she scraped her feet along the sidewalks of Kuhlman Court, Bhattacharya said she had several close calls but hadn’t fallen yet.
“Last year, after the first snow, all of my friends fell one or two times, but I never did,” said Bhattacharya, who before Sunday had never seen a storm with falling chunks of ice. “I am going very carefully so that I don’t break my record.”
The cold and ice didn’t keep some MU students from their studies. In the early afternoon, freshman Lee Senter walked to a friend’s dorm to study after driving in from Jefferson City.
“I have a dorm room here, but I was home for the weekend,” Senter said. “It was a slow drive. A trip that normally takes me about 20 minutes took about an hour and 15 minutes.”
Although the storm prevented the Mizzou Christian Campus House pastor from leading his weekly service at Ellis Auditorium, more than 150 students showed up to worship anyway.
“We weren’t going to have the service because of the weather,” senior Nathan Dickerson said. “But we had lots of people show up, so we got together and lead the worship ourselves.”
For the latest information on local road conditions and school closings, tune in to KBIA/91.3 FM or turn to KOMU/Channel 8.