SPRINGFELD, Mo. -- Just days after a winter storm that brought to Missouri sleet, freezing rain and in some areas nearly 10 inches of snow accumulation, the National Weather Service says another significant winter storm could be in store for this weekend.
This storm will come to Missouri by way of the Country of Mexico, and Meteorologist Evan Bookbinder with the National Weather Service’s Pleasant Hill office says it’s still a long way away.
“It will be probably a couple of days out before we really have the details spelled out,” says Bookbinder. “This system is still off in the Pacific Ocean, so we’ve got a ways to go here yet.”
Still, the outlook is concerning enough that he wants to tell Missourians now to be watching the forecast as it takes shape through the week.
The storm will follow a brief warmup through midweek that will melt off snow and ice in much of the state. Bookbinder says it is after temperatures take that upswing that a front is expected to move in early Friday, dropping temperatures back to at or below freezing. That front could be accompanied by some rain changing to snow, before the system of concern reaches Missouri.
Bookbinder emphasizes the storm is too far and too many days away to predict with certainty its track, timing or what form of and how much precipitation it will produce.
Right now it appears the storm will hit, “Somewhere along the I-44 corridor during the timeframe of late Saturday into Sunday. Depending on the track of that system we could see some significant winter weather across portions of the state in the form of freezing rain and snow once again.”
Bookbinder says this early in the season, storms pose threats for ice accumulation or heavy snow largely because the Midwest is still transitioning between warmer and colder weather.
“The cold air that comes in behind the front Friday is pretty shallow,” he explains. “The air is actually still unseasonably mild aloft, and much like we saw a few days back, depending on how much warm air there is at several thousand feet above the ground, the snow melts into rain and then refreezes on contact or it stays all snow all the way to the ground. It’s just a matter of where you are.”
Winter storm prediction raises driver safety concerns for Highway Patrol
The prediction of another winter storm that would coincide with the weekend before Christmas is concerning to Highway Patrol Captain Tim Hull. He says the storm that hit Missouri Friday and Saturday proved tragic on Missouri roads as 10 people died in traffic crashes attributed to the weather.
“We, statewide, had been down 9 percent (year-to-date) in traffic fatalities compared to what we were at last year before Friday started,” Hull recalls. “10 traffic deaths can make a real impact on that number, but it’s also those 10 families whose lives are going to be changed forever because of those traffic crashes … it’s not just a number for us.”
Hull worries that significant winter weather on a weekend with such potential for heavy travel could prove to be a “devastating situation for drivers.”
Both men are urging Missourians to watch how weather predictions for this weekend develop over the rest of the week, and encourage avoiding unnecessary travel if and when the storm does impact their route.
Hull says before beginning a journey, travelers should remember to use the state road condition hotline at (888) 275-6636, or conditions can be checked with the Transportation Department’s Traveler Information Map that is also available as an app on a smartphone or tablet. For emergency assistance drivers in Missouri can call (800) 525-5555 or *55 on a cell phone. Hull says if someone has been injured, call 911.
For weather information in your part of the state, listen to your local Missourinet affiliate station and visit these National Weather Service websites:
Pleasant Hill: Northwest Missouri including Kansas City, Kirksville and Moberly
St. Louis: Northeast and eastern Missouri including St. Louis, Columbia and Hannibal
Springfield: Southwest Missouri including Springfield, Fort Leonard Wood and the Lake of the Ozarks
Paducah, KY: The Bootheel in Southeast Missouri
Davenport, IA: Scotland and Clark Counties in Northeast Missouri