Arctic blast ices activities
Reduced traffic helps crews clean up roadways
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
For an atypical winter storm, Jefferson City seemed to have handled the situation pretty well.
Sunday’s heavy snow and Monday’s arctic blast kept many people inside their homes, which is where city officials and authorities hoped they would stay.
“It certainly seems most people followed the forecast well and rode out the storm,” said meteorologist Scott Truett with the National Weather Service in St. Louis. “There was little traffic on our area roads and with MoDOT urging people to stay put I think most people took that advice, and we ended up in relatively good shape.”
Forecasters said most reports around Jefferson City were of 5-8 inches of snowfall, with heavier amounts farther east.
The effects of the storm lasted into Tuesday as area school districts cancelled classes to allow road crews to get back out and work.
Clearing streets, roads
Britt Smith, Jefferson City operations division director, said the below-zero temperatures forced street crews to use a combination of salt and cinders, which is unusual for them.
“Salt alone can’t do the job at these temperatures,” Smith said. “The cinders provide traction. One of our guys said in his 17 years on the job he’d never seen us use this combination. The good news is we should get some melting Tuesday with favorable temperatures in the forecast, and we may start to see more bare pavements. We can handle snow, but when it’s below zero it’s a different environment to deal with.”
All Jefferson City and Cole County government offices were open Monday despite the arctic weather.
Cole County Recorder Larry Rademan opened his office at noon and said he took into account the subzero temperatures and road conditions to make sure it was safe for his employees to come into work. Because he is an independent officeholder, he has the discretion on when to open and close his office.
Jefferson City Police Department officials said Monday that residents, for the most part, had been smart about the cold and the weather, staying off the roads to let crews get out and clear them as best as possible.
The Jefferson City Fire Department asked residents that as they blade, shovel, or push snow off driveways and sidewalks, they should also take time to clear away the snow from around fire hydrants. They also asked residents keep house numbers readily visible so firefighters can get to correct addresses.
Due to street conditions, the Fire Department used pickup trucks, rather than the larger pieces of apparatus, to respond to medical calls, interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert said.
Hilpert said Jefftran buses were running, but at a slower rate.
The Jefferson City Memorial Airport was closed for a time to clean off runways, but was reopened late Monday morning, he said.
Republic Services, formerly Allied Waste, called customers with a pre-recorded message, noting the cancellation of Monday’s scheduled trash and recycling collections, and reminding customers that means their normal collections will be pushed back by a day for the rest of the week, through Saturday.
“We will do our best to pick up everywhere we can possibly do so, safely,” the recorded message added.
“If we are not able to get to your location, we will take extra on your next scheduled pickup day, at no additional charge.”
Forecasters are calling for a warming trend in the next few days.
“We might be pushing the freezing mark on Tuesday and Wednesday, but by the weekend we should be getting into the 40s for highs,” Truett said. “That’s because there will be a shift in the flow of air from north to the south, and while there is a chance for an inch, maybe two, of additional snowfall Wednesday, it’s not going to be anything like this past storm.
“There’s also rain in the forecast late in the week and by that time the temps should be well above freezing so it will be all rain.”
As of Monday afternoon, the only weather-related emergency room visit to St. Mary’s Health Center (SMHC) was one case of hypothermia.
Amy Berendzen, spokeswoman for Capital Region Medical Center (CRMC), said around 4 p.m. Monday that the hospital hadn’t seen any out-of-the-ordinary cases due to the bitter cold.
With below-zero wind chills also expected today, the SMHC emergency team offers some tips for the cold weather:
• Limit the amount of time you are outside.
• Bundle up. Layers work great. Don’t expose skin.
• Use the buddy system, and don’t go outside alone. (This would be important for people who work outside, such as farmers who are going to feed cattle.)
The St. Mary’s clinic in Versailles was the only of SMHC’s clinics closed Monday. Heather Feeler, spokeswoman for the hospital, said she thought all of St. Mary’s clinics would be open today.
Two of CRMC’s family practices were closed Monday.
By about noon Monday, Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS) cancelled school for today. JCPS spokesman David Luther said the main reason was due to the cold and the potential for student bus riders to have to wait for the buses on rural roads.
“It’s very rare that we cancel school based solely on cold temperatures,” he said. Although the high for today is expected to be 33, the temperature at 7 a.m. was forecast to be 0.
The district covers 233 miles, he said, and some bus drivers run multiple routes, so there’s more potential for bus delays.
“We don’t want to expose those kids to extreme temperatures,” he said. “So we have decided to err on extreme caution.
“We realize some folks are going to be in favor and some folks will be critical, but we just decided we need to do what’s best for the students.”
The Monday and Tuesday cancellations were the only two so far this year for the public schools. Luther said the schools have six days built into the calendar, and the schools get out early for each snow day that isn’t needed. “So we’re in a good place right now,” he said. Right now, the last day will be May 22.
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