Cold snap bringing sleet to Cape

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Weather forecasters weren't sure Wednesday when or how much freezing precipitation will fall later today and tonight, but they were certain about one thing -- it is going to turn cold.

Friday will be a cold, windy day after any snow that reaches Southeast Missouri diminishes to flurries around noon, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures Friday night are expected to fall to near 20 degrees.

A cold front pushing through the area today will bring a chance of severe storms, and soon after nightfall rain should change to sleet, said Christine Wilegos, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Paducah, Ky. Some computer models show less than 2 inches of snow for Cape Girardeau, but Wilegos said differences in models' forecasts make that uncertain.

"It is a combination of a couple of things, such as how fast it moves, is there going to be enough moisture and when the cold air actually gets here," she said.

The prediction for winter weather caused an increase in sales of staples Wednesday at Schnucks on Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau, manager John Townsend said. He anticipates a rush today as people worried about hazardous driving visit the store.

"What is not helping today is it is nearly 70 degrees," he said. "On a typical snow day, it is all hands on deck. People buy bread, milk, cigarettes and other things they use every day. And when the snow hits, we all grab our hats and run."

Hardware stores also are a must-stop location for many people worried about getting stuck or needing to replace broken or rusty snow shovels. At Elias Ace Hardware, 1719 N. Kingshighway, John Elias said he is ready with two pallets of ice-melting salt, about 125 snow shovels and 150 sleds for enjoying a winter blast.

"They are not believing it," Elias said of his Wednesday customers. "It has been too warm. When it cools down tomorrow, that is when you will see them come."

Elias said he also has bags of sand on hand to help weigh down vehicles to add traction while driving on ice as well as to provide something to put on ice when a vehicle is stuck.

The storm system creating the winter mix for Southeast Missouri is also predicted to hit Kansas City with an ice storm and heavy snow, as much as a foot, in Central Missouri north of Interstate 44.

The area around Cape Girardeau should experience falling temperatures and rain throughout today, with early morning temperatures plunging to the mid-30s by afternoon with stiff winds, Wilegos said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will provide information on road conditions throughout the state at www.modot.org and at (888) 275-6638 during business hours. The Missouri State Highway Patrol offers 24-hour road condition reports at (800) 222-6400.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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