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State agencies prepare for snow and dangerous cold; AAA provides tips to keep safe on roads

Columbia, Mo. received its first snowfall of the season. County officials advise drivers to stay safe on the roads.
Kyle Deas
Columbia, Mo. received its first snowfall of the season. County officials advise drivers to stay safe on the roads.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, the winter weather is expected to make traveling more hazardous.

The KOMU 8 First Alert Weather Team anticipates 2 to 4 inches of snow, beginning Thursday morning between 4 and 8 a.m., and temperatures to drop into the 10s by late Thursday morning and continue to fall in the single digits by the afternoon.

Strong winds and blowing/drifting snow are expected, ultimately making driving dangerous.

Ahead of potentially hazardous weather, the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) is developing its plan for what it calls the "busy" week ahead.

"We have extra manpower that'll be out there. The snow that we're getting, isn't gonna set any records at all, but it certainly can create traffic problems very quickly. So obviously, I-70, 63, 54, those major roadways, Troop F will be heavily patrolled, trying to get people to slow down," Cpl. Kyle Green, the public information officer for Troop F, said.

MSHP currently has a shortage of troopers, in terms of positions available. However, Green said he does not see that impacting road operations this week.

Green also said he does not anticipate any major roadways being closed due to weather-related conditions.

"The only reason a roadway would be closed would be due to a crash," Green said. "And as soon as we can get that scene cleared up, then that roadway would be open back up. But as of right now, we do not anticipate shutting down any major interstates or highways due to the storm."

The Missouri Department of Transportation said cleanup, especially in the overnight hours, could take longer than usual. Becky Allmeroth, MoDOT’s chief safety and operations officer, said that's because the chemicals used to treat the roads lose their effectiveness in bitterly cold temperatures.

“Snowfall totals are manageable, but high winds and bitterly cold temperatures will make clearing the roads difficult. Motorists should take extra preparations before you take to the road," Allmeroth said."

Nick Chabarria, a spokesperson for AAA, said making sure your vehicle is winter ready is crucial this time of year.

"That includes having some extra supplies in your vehicle and emergency kit, you know, in case you do break down and you're not able to start your vehicle during the colder months," Chabarria said. "Some of the more important items that we recommend folks have one is a good pair of jumper cables."

According to AAA, the kit should include the following:

  • Traction aids (sand, salt, non-clumping cat litter or traction mats)
  • Shovel
  • Ice scraper
  • Snow brush
  • Jumper cables or jump pack
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench, duct tape, plastic zip ties)
  • Tarp, raincoat and gloves to help stay clean/dry if you must get out of the vehicle
  • Rags, paper towels or pre-moistened wipes
  • Warning devices (flares, reflective triangles or LED beacons)
  • First-aid kit (check expiration date)
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks/food for your passengers and any pets
  • Winter windshield washer solvent
  • Warm gloves, clothes, hats and blankets for all passengers in your car
  • Car charger for mobile phone

In addition to an emergency kit, drivers should inspect tires have adequate tread depth to ensure drivability on winter roads. Chabarria said to make sure your car battery and charging system is up to par, and to double check windshield wipers.
"Also warm clothes, gloves, hats, blankets, maybe an extra jacket or sweater in your vehicle - for every passenger in your vehicle," Chabarrisa said. "You have to remember that if your vehicle dies, you're not going to have a way to start it to run the heat to stay warm."

Dead or disabled batteries are the number one reason that people call AAA for roadside assistance during the colder weather, Chabarria said.

With the sub-zero wind chill expected this week, it could be life threatening if a driver becomes stranded.

"If a situation arises where you're in a vehicle crash on a two-lane road, it may be a little while before we can get to you," Green said. "So it's a great idea to throw a couple blankets in your car and some water, just in case, because with the temperature dropping on Friday, down to single digits, it could literally turn into a deadly situation."

Chabarria said said adjust your holiday trip if you can.

"We know that the weather is likely going to present some challenges for those that are planning to travel for the holiday this weekend," he said. "Our recommendation would be if you can adjust your trip. Maybe leave early or leave later rather than leaving during the storm itself."

KOMU 8 has a traffic map on KOMU.com for local conditions and MoDOT also has an online map of incidents across the state.

KOMU 8 is a full-powered NBC affiliate operating as an independent commercial property. As such, KOMU 8 is the only major network affiliate in the United States that acts as a university-owned commercial television station utilizing its newsroom as a working lab for students.