Southeast Missouri prepares for anticipated winter storm

Monday, January 26, 2009
This National Weather Service graphic shows the winter storm warning area in pink.

Before the winter storm approaches the area, businesses and law enforcement are urging residents to be prepared ahead of the anticipated weather.

The wintry precipitation is expected to begin around 9 or 10 p.m. today in Cape Girardeau County, with forecasts calling for five to 10 inches of snow and sleet before the first round ends around noon Tuesday. A second round is expected to bring either snow and sleet or freezing rain and sleet before ending Wednesday morning.

"It's very interesting," said Jayson Wilson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky. "We expecting a lot of snow and sleet in the northern counties and all ice in the Bootheel and Tennessee. Cape Girardeau County should get all snow and sleet tonight and tomorrow but is right on the cusp of the snow/sleet and freezing rain line for the second round."

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning effective through midnight on Tuesday. Affected areas include Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Scott and Stoddard counties in Missouri, Alexander, Jackson and Union counties in Illinois and parts of western Kentucky and southwest Indiana.

An ice storm warning includes New Madrid County. Ice accumulations from one-half to two inches are possible in the county and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Wilson said motorists who choose to drive in the conditions tomorrow and Wednesday could be risking their lives. He advises that any business should be completed today before the winter weather arrives.

Local hardware stores reported an ample supply of generators, ice melt, snow shovels and batteries this morning.

Mark Beaudean, owner of Southeast Missouri Builders Supply in Cape Girardeau, had sold a few bags of ice melt during the first 30 minutes of business this morning. But he expects business to pick up late this afternoon.

"People always wait until it hits or they get it soon afterward," Beaudean said. "They should go ahead and get it but they don't.

"It's much easier to treat the surfaces beforehand rather than trying to treat after it falls. By doing so it keeps the ice from freezing to the surface."

Chuck Meyer, owner of Meyer Supply Co. in Cape Girardeau, said he has four tons of ice melt on hand, but expects his supply to sell out. During the February 2008 ice storm he sold out his two-ton supply.

He said that if anyone does not have a snow shovel they should buy or borrow one, along with ice melt, as soon as possible.

"The preparation work should have already been done," Meyer said. "But there is still time. In addition to the ice melt and snow shovel, batteries are a necessity in case power goes out."

Michael Cleary, spokesman for AmerenUE, said the company's storm trailer is permanently based in Cape Girardeau. The 55-foot trailer is stocked with about $100,000 worth of materials commonly needed to repair equipment that is damaged by storms.

An additional storm trailer, plus AmerenUE's mobile command post, is en route to the Sikeston area.

"When a severe storm strikes, it can be dispatched to a central location close to where the worst damage occurred," Cleary said. "So crews can quickly obtain the essential materials needed to make repairs, without having to make repeated trips back to our nearest storeroom."

Cleary said families should have an emergency-preparedness kit on hand, which should include such items as batteries, flashlights, battery-powered radio, bottled water, non-perishable foods that do not require heating, hand-operated can opener and extra cash. Where possible, water lines and hose bibs should be insulated or covered.

If power goes out, Cleary said that electric customers should call the AmerenUE office at 800-552-7583. Customers should also check their panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse and turn to the "on" position a front porch or other light, which will allow the customer to know when power has been restored. Cleary added that the refrigerator should be set to its coldest setting and remain closed.

City and county officials also are making storm preparations.

The Cape Girardeau County Commission is calling for a 9 a.m. delayed start of office hours Tuesday, anticipating some storm-related travel problems. County emergency director Dick Knaup had an 11:30 a.m. conference call scheduled with the National Weather Service.

"It's not a matter of whether we'll be affected, but how bad," Knaup told the commissioners.

Look for additional updates later in the day at semissourian.com.

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