Early snowflakes turn into icy reality

Friday, December 6, 2002

Life will get back to normal today for many after the sun assisted road crews Thursday by melting snow that has slowed traffic since early Wednesday, though many schools will be closed again.

Though most of the thick snow blanket -- some places in Southeast Missouri received as much as 12 inches -- was removed from the streets and highways, meteorologists predicted overnight temperatures to dip near 10 degrees, which could make for slick patches on roads this morning.

"We're getting things pretty well cleaned up," said Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer Stan Johnson Thursday afternoon. "But the thing you worry about when the temperature gets down that low is the freeze back."

The re-freezing of melted snow, along with the fact that many rural roads are still in bad condition, have caused some superintendents to call off school again today. Woodland and Meadow Heights schools in Bollinger County and Kelly and Kelso schools in Scott County all called off classes by 4 p.m. Thursday.

Cape Girardeau School District superintendent Mark Bowles said Thursday evening that he expects classes to resume today, but he'd make a final decision this morning after an early test drive.

"I'll do some driving in the morning to see how the roads are," Bowles said.

Jackson's school officials will also wait until this morning to decide, said Bonnie Stahlman with the school board office.

Official snow depth

The National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., said the official snowfall was approximately 5 inches in Cape Girardeau. Jackson's Fire Department, which reports to the weather service, recorded 8 inches of snow.

All the schools in the area were closed Thursday as were the county offices. Road travel, especially in the morning, was risky as cars once again could be seen stranded in medians and fish-tailing while struggling up hills.

U.S. 61 between Jackson and Cape Girardeau was still treacherous around 8 a.m., but two hours later, the sunshine began melting the snow and motorists began traveling at near-normal speeds.

That was the situation for main arteries in both Cape Girardeau and Jackson Thursday, but residential roads and parking lots remained slippery in both towns throughout the day.

"We're trying to get the slush removed," Cape Girardeau public works director Doug Leslie said Thursday afternoon. "The crews worked through the night and will keep working until everything is clear. We'll work into the night again."

Jim Roach, Jackson's city administrator, said the county seat hasn't seen any major weather-related problems.

"We had some minor fender benders, but nothing serious," he said. "It's been relatively quiet considering the storm."

It wasn't quiet in all places.

The Pocahontas Lumber and ACE hardware store in Jackson saw an increase in customers over the last two days.

Store manager Ken Fluegge said the store sold 75 shovels on Wednesday and 3,000 pounds of ice melt. But sales of snow shovels were greater than those of any ice-melting products.

Supplies have held out, he said, since the store received a shipment of winter supplies the night before the big storm.

"It was kind of planned, but there was some luck involved too or it wouldn't have happened," he said.

bmiller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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