COLUMBIA — The National Weather Service continued to predict freezing rain Monday night as Gov. Matt Blunt mobilized 50 members of the National Guard to provide assistance to any hard-hit areas in central Missouri.
As of 7 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service was keeping an ice storm advisory in place until 6 a.m. Wednesday, warning that up to one-fourth of an inch of ice could accumulate. Temperatures hovering at 30 degrees and light winds were expected to lessen the impact of a thunderstorm.
Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent with Columbia Public Schools, said a decision to cancel classes and activities would be made at 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The National Guard is to be stationed at the Columbia Armory, Blunt said in a news release, where the soldiers could be dispatched as an emergency response team. They have been asked to join local efforts to generate power and make health and welfare checks.
On Monday, city and state work crews were just beginning to gain traction on damage inflicted by the weekend ice storm.
Power was returning to 100 to 150 Boone County Electric customers affected by the ice storm, most living in Ashland.
Another 20 to 30 customers were expected to still be without power until Tuesday morning, depending on the coming weather, according to Ryan Euliss of Boone County Electric Cooperative.
After clearing primary roads, the city was making headway on residential streets.
Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department, said if the city is pummeled by another winter storm, crews will have to return to priority streets.
Out of the 450 miles of road that the Public Works Department is responsible for, only about 80 miles qualify as first or secondary priority. These are main arteries and streets that typically contain hills, curves and blind spots, Stedem said.
Salt and cinder have been used most often, Stedem said, but calcium chloride, a liquid that melts ice quickly, is sprayed as needed where ice is thicker and hard to clear
As of noon Monday, 16 of 17 city snowplows were working. In addition, three motor graders — snowplows that are equipped with blades for ice — have also been running.
To check out an up-to-the-minute traveler information map go to maps.modot.mo.gov/travelerinformation/
At Columbia Regional Airport, planes were running on schedule Monday, Stedem said. At other nearby airports, ice may cause delays and cancellations. Travelers can either check flykci.com, which is constantly updated, or call the appropriate airline.
Few serious traffic incidents were reported on city streets and state highways through the weekend and Monday. Crews with the Missouri Department of Transportation have been treating roadways in advance of the storm, which reduced the number of accidents, said Trooper Anthony Helfrecht of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
“People aren’t traveling as fast as they usually do because of the weather conditions, so most of them start sliding on the road and just end up in the ditch,” Helfrecht said.
Five accidents have been reported on the MU campus as of Monday afternoon, according to Capt. Scott Richardson of the MU Police Department.
Icy conditions also made it difficult for local organizations to provide food to the elderly.
Meals on Wheels did not deliver Monday, and Executive Director Marcia Walker does not anticipate delivery Tuesday or Wednesday.
The greatest concern is for older volunteers, susceptible to falls themselves, who deliver the meals.
“The icy conditions make it difficult to get to the doors of our clients,” Walker said.
The Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging also halted delivery Monday to the 2,000 clients it serves each day, executive director Jean Leonatti said. Both Meals on Wheels and CMAAA delivered blizzard packs of staples and microwaveable entrees to clients earlier this winter to use if weather made delivery impossible.
Many of the CMAAA senior centers were closed Monday, and meals were not served.
Warming centers also opened across Boone County. In Ashland, residents could go to the Copper Kettel Restaurant, 508 E. Liberty Lane. In Hartsburg, the American Legion Hall opened to allow people to get out of the cold.
Local retailers saw a run on ice scrapers, de-icing liquids and salt over the last three days. Some stores, such as Westlake ACE Hardware located on Worley Street, scrambled to keep up with demand.
“We only ran out of ice melt for about two hours this morning,” said store manager Rex Neil. “We just unloaded a truck-load of product.”
Other stores with an inventory of winter supplies are experiencing similar setbacks.
Tyree Parts and Hardware sold out of their entire winter storm inventory, said store manager Rena Wegener.
“The problem is when you have an occurrence like this, nobody stocks enough stuff to take care of emergency type of weather situations,” she said.
Wegener said the pallet of ice melt Tyree’s had this morning was sold out by 11 a.m.. The store isn’t going to stock any more ice melt for a couple of weeks.
— Jessica Huang, Renee DuBose, Rebekah Sasse, C. Curran Coulter II, Lauren Miller, Christy Solberg and Kate O’Donnell contributed to this story.