'Catastrophic icing' possible, weather service says

Monday, March 3, 2008
The flag outside the American Legion Hall in Jackson was covered in a sheet of ice on Feb. 13. Another ice storm will hit the area starting tonight, forecasts predict. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

A forecast issued late Monday afternoon increased the prediction for ice, sleet and snow in Cape Girardeau and surrounding areas and a forecast discussion released about 3:30 p.m. warned of possible "catastrophic icing."

A flood watch is in effect through late tonight. A winter storm warning is in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Temperatures should fall below freezing in the Cape Girardeau area between 9 p.m. and midnight, said Mike York, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky. Computer models show that up to 3 inches of liquid precipitation will fall by the time the storm leaves the area late Tuesday.

The late afternoon forecast, issued just before 4 p.m., predicts up to half an inch of ice in the Cape Girardeau area overnight, with an additional inch of sleet. The forecast calls for frozen precipitation to continue through most of the day Tuesday, adding up to 4 inches of snow and another quarter inch of ice before coming to an end sometime Tuesday evening.

The computer models being used by the weather service aren't all showing the same conditions at the same time, York noted. That means the area could see more snow or ice, or considerably less than forecast. "There is still a high degree of uncertainty and it is based on when the temperature gets below 32."

The areas likely to be hit the worst, he said, include Marble Hill and Perryville."The highest icing will no doubt be north and west of Cape," York said.

Through 4 p.m., the weather service recorded 1.1 inches of rain at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport since the first showers reached the area after 5:30 a.m.

Cape Girardeau, Jackson and Missouri Department of Transportation crews reported Monday that they are restocked on salt and cinders in anticipation of additional winter weather.

Cape Girardeau took delivery of 500 tons of salt late last week, public works director Tim Gramling said.

The Missouri Department of Transportation received new supplies as well and shifted some salt from counties to the south to replenish supplies, said Keith Gentry, maintenance superintendent for MoDOT's Southeast Missouri district.

Salt storage sheds in Butler County were completely depleted, Gentry said, while those in Cape Girardeau and Bollinger counties "were down to the critical stages."

For updates, check back at www.semissourian.com or read Tuesday's Southeast Missourian.

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