A thick blanket of snow covered most of the state Saturday as local emergency managers did their best to fend off the fierce winter storm.
The storm caused dozens of car crashes Friday and Saturday afternoon in Jefferson City as motorists slid off slick roadways. Dozens of area residents experienced power outages caused by heavy snow.
Jared Maples, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said around noon Saturday that areas near Jefferson City and Columbia reported 12-13 inches of snow. Between 2-3 more inches was expected to fall later Saturday as snow showers lingered into Sunday morning, Maples said.
"It seems like Central Missouri was the bullseye," Maples said.
Crew members with the Missouri Department of Transportation, Cole County and Jefferson City did their best to keep roads clear. Despite their best efforts, Sgt. Scott White, Missouri Highway Patrol Troop F spokesman, said from noon Friday until 10 a.m. Saturday ,the Highway Patrol responded to 289 slide offs caused by slick conditions and 176 crashes.
No fatalities were reported, but six people were reported injured at the time. White said most of the slide-offs and crashes had minor or no damage.
Several non-injury crashes without damage caused other crashes caused by cars that later approached accident scenes and lost control of their vehicles, White said.
"We've had a couple patrol cars struck in the last 24 hours because of that," he said.
Jefferson City Police Department Sgt. Gary Campbell said between 11 p.m. Friday and around 2 p.m. Saturday, the department responded to 46 accidents. Still, for the most part, area residents heeded warnings to stay home, he said.
"There's some traffic, but nothing compared to the past," Campbell said. "So people were very diligent on getting their stuff ahead of time."
Many people who went slow Saturday still lost control of their vehicles in the wet conditions, White said.
"Even when people are going really slow, they're having a hard time keeping traction" he said. "You get into a curve or a turn and they just end up sliding."
Road crews did their best to keep the roads clear. The Missouri Department of Transportation had 219 snow plows, sand and salt trucks in their central district trying to keep major arteries like U.S. 54, U.S. 63 and Interstate 70 clear, said Paul Dinkler, MoDOT assistant maintenance engineer for the central district.
The moisture and duration of the storm made it unique, Maples said.
"With the moisture that was around an inch in liquid or more, that was plenty enough to stack up what we got across the area," he said. "Then you add in the time it spent over areas, and that was enough to give us over a foot in some cases."
Forecasts changed several times over the past week as a system moved onshore from the Pacific Ocean and pushed into the Midwest.
Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz said the forecast the county used estimated Mid-Missouri could receive up to 15 inches of snow.
The county's 26 trucks tried to keep roads as clear as possible throughout the storm. On Saturday, county crews focused on getting roads open. As conditions improve, Saturday and Sunday, Benz said crews will come by again to clear the snow.
"It's a good storm, believe me," Benz said "But it's not the biggest I've seen."
Britt Smith, Jefferson City Public Works operations division director, said: "This snow is probably one of the wettest snows I've seen, and I've been doing this for 15 years."
The heavy snow made it relatively easy for the city's 24 trucks to plow giving cars decent traction, Smith said, adding the heavy snow bogged down some snowplows though.
Temperatures hovered just above freezing for most of the daylight hours Saturday. The heavy snow caused power lines to and tree branches to snap, including from a tree at the Missouri Governor's Mansion.
Throughout the day, small power outages affected dozens of Ameren Missouri and Three Rivers Electric Cooperative customers in the Jefferson City area.
Ameren spokeswoman Erin Davis said wet snow caused branches and trees to fall on power lines, leading to several small power outages in the Jefferson City area.
"There's just so much snow weighing down the branches," Davis said. "Typically it doesn't hold it as much, but the snow is wet."