Freezing temperatures forecast in region for next several days

Friday, November 12, 2004

A steady drizzle fell on the Cape Girardeau area Thursday and forecasters said the weekend could bring freezing temperatures.

Over a 24-hour period from 8 a.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday, about six-tenths of an inch of rain fell in downtown Cape Girardeau. By 3 p.m. Thursday, another one-third of an inch of rain had fallen, according to the National Weather Service.

The rain was expected to end by this morning, said forecaster Michael York with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

The weekend was expected to bring sunny days with temperatures in the 50s and nighttime temperatures in the low 30s. "We are looking at cool temperatures," York said.

But motorists shouldn't see icy roads even if temperatures hit the freezing mark tonight, Saturday and Sunday, York said. The weekend should be dry.

"There shouldn't be much in the way of cloud cover until next week," York said. The next chance of rain could come Wednesday.

Cooler temperatures this weekend won't hurt outside plants unless temperatures get down to 28 degrees and there's a lot of dew, said gardening expert Paul Schnare of Sunny Hill Gardens and Florist in Cape Girardeau.

"If we get temperatures down around 28 degrees we could get a killing frost," he said. "The biggest concern is whether we have clouds or not and how much moisture is in the air."

There is a better chance of a killing frost when there is a lot of moisture in the air, no cloud cover and no wind, he said.

Temperatures climbed into the mid-50s Thursday, but it may have seemed cooler to many area residents. Schnare said that's because the area as recently as last weekend saw highs in the 70s.

"It has been pretty warm all fall," he said.

But that hasn't stopped the Missouri Department of Transportation from preparing for snow removal.

In six of the last 10 years, the first snow of the season fell in November with the greatest amount in that month measuring nearly 3 inches in 1997, MoDOT officials said.

MoDOT has close to 150 pieces of equipment and nearly $1 million worth of salt on hand to clear roads in Southeast Missouri.

Missouri spends about $1.5 million a year on labor, materials and equipment to clear state roads in Southeast Missouri of ice and snow.

"We always hope for a mild winter," said MoDOT operations engineer Mike Helpingstine. "But we always prepare for severe weather and the long hours and grueling schedule that come with that."

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