After dropping a total of 10 inches of snow in Jefferson City and surrounding areas by Thursday morning, the severe winter storm has continued to pummel Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) crews.
Though there is no more heavy snowfall predicted in the area by the National Weather Service in St. Louis, MoDOT crews will continue to work as long as it takes to clear routes across the state, officials said.
"The plan is to just keep going," said Adam Pulley, of MoDOT. "We do anticipate that taking time going into tomorrow (Friday), and it's just, again, focusing on getting the primary routes clear."
Some primary routes in Mid-Missouri include U.S. 54, U.S. 63, U.S. 50, Interstate 70 and Interstate 44.
Going into today, Pulley recommends travelers continue to play it safe when considering driving and use the MoDOT Traveler Information Map.
"Stay informed, and then take it slow and always err on the side of safety," he said. "If you can stay home, that's always the best option. If you have to go out, just plan ahead and allow extra time."
MoDOT crews will still have a lot of work to do today, clearing all the roads including the smaller routes as well as exit ramps and outer roads, a Thursday news release said. Expect slow travel as conditions will not be clear in many areas for this morning's commute.
"Our plows have driven nearly 800,000 miles already this storm. That's three times the distance from the earth to the moon," Becky Allmeroth, MoDOT chief safety and operations officer, said in the news release. "By Friday, crews will be on their third 12-hour shift this week. Please be patient and give them room to work."
MoDOT has experienced staffing shortages for months that have affected the number of available plow drivers during the storm.
"We've got every available crew member out there, and we're working as hard as we can, as quickly as possible, just to keep up with those primary routes for now," Pulley said.
This winter storm has created extremely hazardous driving conditions, resulting in a large number of wrecks on the state's interstate system, the news release said. Gusting winds will cause drifting snow that will make some roads appear that they haven't been cleared.
Though today is expected to be sunny, single-digit temperatures can decrease the effectiveness of chemicals used to clear roads down to the pavement.
"Crews have already spread approximately 10,000 tons of salt this week. You will continue to see them working shifts through the weekend until roads are mostly clear," Allmeroth said in the news release.
The current forecast shows light flurries of snow through Thursday in the area with no ground accumulation, according to the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
"The problem tonight is that you guys are going to have temperatures in the single digits, probably between zero and 2 above," said Melissa Byrd, of the National Weather Service in St. Louis. "You could see wind chills down to around minus 5 tonight."
"The really low temperatures that we've seen, especially overnight, do limit the effectiveness of salt and things," Pulley said. "Black ice can obviously develop, you know, especially looking at bridges and overpasses, those type of things is where it could really be a factor in people's travels."
Should you be involved in a minor crash or slide off the road, MoDOT recommends you remain in your vehicle with the seat belt buckled.
Equip your vehicle with a winter weather emergency kit before you travel in winter weather. Include any necessary medications, a phone charger, a blanket, bottled water, nonperishable foods and a flashlight. For more items to include in a winter weather emergency kit, visit modot.org/winter.
Check current Missouri road conditions on the Traveler Information Map at www.modot.org or through MoDOT's smartphone app, available for iPhone and Android phones. You can also find road conditions and warnings by following MoDOT on Facebook and Twitter or by calling 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636) to speak with a customer service representative 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.