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Columbia escapes worst of ice storm

Huge storm disrupts power and travel across the nation.
Thursday, January 6, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 4:31 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

After two days of anticipation, the weather turned nasty just when it looked like Columbia would remain ice-free.

On a day when Columbia Public Schools let out early because of the threat of ice, freezing temperatures remained just to the north until about nightfall.

It didn’t take long for a mix of freezing rain, sleet and ice pellets to make roads slick.

Henry Hancox of A-1 Express stopped taking calls for his Columbia taxi company at 6 p.m.

“When my drivers tell me they’re sliding all over the road, it’s in everybody’s best interest to stay off the roads,” he said.

By 8 p.m., the wintry mix had ended and city public works supervisor Charlie Enochs said road crews were being sent home.

Cold air behind the storm was forecast to keep temperatures in the low 20s today before rebounding into the 40s on Friday.

The winter weather was part of a huge storm that spread ice and snow from the Rockies to the Northeast on Wednesday, snarling highway and airline traffic and snapping power lines serving tens of thousands of people.

Nearly 100,000 electric customers, many in the Wichita area, were without power Wednesday following the storm that coated a large swath of Missouri and Kansas with a layer of ice.

Westar Energy Inc. said thousands could be in the dark for more than a week.

“Damage is very widespread,” said Westar spokeswoman Gina Penzig. “We have lines down, tree limbs down and a few instances of poles being broken that will have to be reset.”

In the Kansas City area, 30,000 customers of Kansas City Power & Light still were without electricity Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the search continued for a rural Noel couple missing since Tuesday morning in southwest Missouri. Their car apparently was swept from the road by a flash flood in the storm’s early hours.

Before the ice, flooding was the main problem in the Columbia area after more than 2 inches of rain in the past two days.

Several roads were closed, including Wilcox Road just north of Columbia, where a woman was rescued when her pickup was stranded in 3 feet of water early Wednesday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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