It wasn’t a blizzard but it was close. Columbia is working to get up and running after the city and Missouri at large were hit with more than 10 inches of snow between Thursday night and this morning.
The storm led to a number of closures including Columbia’s public schools, Columbia Regional Airport and major roadways including Interstate 70. Even MU cancelled classes today, the first time it has done so since 1998.
I-70 was open by 5 p.m. Friday evening, but traffic was still being re-routed eastbound from mile marker 89 in Cooper County, as only one lane was cleared.
The Columbia Public Works Department snow removal crews will work 12-hour shifts until the city’s streets are clear, according to a press release. The Department reports that they are still working on Columbia’s “1st priority streets,” such as Ash Street and Nifong Boulevard.
Although the number of accidents has dropped in the past hour, the road conditions took a toll on Columbia drivers.
At least one person is dead from a weather-related accident. Since 3 p.m. Thursday there have been 41 accidents reported in the Columbia city limits, according to the Columbia Police Department.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol recommends that people do not get on the roads to allow for plowing, and city and county law enforcement agencies said in a press release that they may ticket drivers who are on the road. Gov. Matt Blunt has declared a state of emergency, according to a news release. More than 250,000 residents of Missouri are without electrical power. The Columbia Water & Light has reported there are no residents who are reporting power outages.
“This storm left a trail of snow and ice across the state, thousands without power and countless Missourians stuck at home,” Blunt said. “I am declaring a state of emergency to ensure state resources are readily available to assist however needed. We are actively monitoring the weather and recovery efforts and call on all Missourians to take extra precaution through the next several days.”
Furthermore, the governor’s interim spokesperson Brian Hauswirth said that the governor called for even more help.
“The governor is calling up the National Guard to assist local governments in anyway they can,” he said. He added that the city’s would have to ask for help but if it did, the Guard would go door-to-door if needed to give out generators and food for the homebound.
By declaring Missouri in a state of emergency, Blunt has activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan. It directs state agencies including the Transportation Department and the highway patrol to provide support in affected areas as needed.
For information on weather, go to the National Weather Service’s Web site at www.nws.noaa.gov.
For road conditions, call the Missouri State Highway Patrol at 800-222-6400 or go to the Department of Transportation’s Web site at www.modot.org and select the Road Conditions Map. or call 888-ASK MODOT (888-275-6636).
The Missouri State Highway Patrol also provides recorded 24-hour road conditions across the state by calling 800-222-6400.