Marquell Robinson navigates his snow plow vehicle through a cul-de-sac

Marquell Robinson navigates his snow plow through a cul-de-sac Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 in Columbia in a test of vehicles to make sure they were ready ahead of winter snow. Columbia Public Schools and MU closed Friday, Jan. 17, 2020, ahead of expected snow and ice. 

Columbia began coping with a winter storm early Friday, with icy conditions the most serious threat.

Snow predicted for early morning hours didn't accumulate in measurable amounts. Road conditions in most locations were good. Sidewalks downtown had a light glaze of ice but were passable.

KOMU meteorologist Matt Beckwith said sleet and snow has been seen across most of the region, which will continue through the next several hours.

Around 10 a.m. Beckwith expects the storm to transition all to freezing rain, lasting until about 4 p.m.

Rainfall will follow afterwards, Beckwith said, until around 8 p.m.

Roadways will be slick at that point, but driving conditions should start to improve by around 6 p.m., Beckwith said.

Barry Dalton, Public Works Department community relations specialist, said a crew of 27 began work on the roads at 5 a.m. Friday. Bridges, curves and busy intersections were pre-treated and will continue to be treated throughout the morning.

Dalton said the department is monitoring the forecast. The snow may have passed Columbia, he said, but we're facing the wintry mix now.

The pavement on the roads is below freezing. It's expected to warm up later, but drivers should take caution, Dalton said.

A full list of closings can be found on KOMU's closings and cancellations page.

Very few, if any, accidents have been reported, Chuck Mastalski of the Boone County 911 Center said. Officers are starting to report sleet near Stadium and Broadway, he added.

No power outages have been reported by the Columbia Municipal Power Plant as of just before 8 a.m. Friday. 

The National Weather Service in St. Louis issued a flood watch from noon until late Friday night. The flood watch is in effect for many counties in southwestern Illinois, extending west into Missouri past Boone County.

The flood watch cites heavy rainfall from the weekend of Jan. 11 and the next round of precipitation expected Friday to result in flooding.

It was the second winter storm for Columbia in the past week.

Columbia Public Schools, MU and Columbia College all announced Thursday evening that they would be closed Friday. 

The university will be closed Friday, MU said in an announcement emailed at 4:45 p.m. Thursday. The district announced all CPS schools will close because of the projected start time of the storm, according to text messages sent.

The National Weather Service in St. Louis had issued a winter storm watch through Friday evening for counties in central, east-central and northeast Missouri and west-central Illinois.

Accumulations of 3 inches of snow and one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch of ice are possible, according to the winter storm watch. Winds may reach gusts of 30 mph, according to the forecast.

The city of Columbia said in a Thursday news release that it was preparing for the storm. Residents were encouraged to monitor weather and road conditions. The city advised drivers to use caution and avoid the roads if possible.

The city bus system planned to maintain its regular schedule and paratransit services Friday and Saturday, according to a city release.

Columbia Regional Airport said it planned to stay open to commercial and air traffic. Travelers were advised to check with their specific airline to confirm details on their flights. There was no indication of flight delays on the airport website as of early Friday.  

Ziye Kelsey Tang and Annie Jennemann contributed to this story.

Supervising editor is Fred Anklam Jr. 

  • General assignment reporter, Winter 2019. Studying magazine writing.

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