The potential for ice has increased to a possible half inch and Laclede Electric Cooperative says its preparing for an ice storm.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Springfield issued a situation report early Wednesday morning warning that the potential for ice accumulation, as part of the winter storm that will be moving into the area Thursday night and Friday morning, is increasing.
"At this time, it appears that areas along Highway 60 and Interstate 44 will have the potential of seeing between one quarter and one half inch of total ice accumulation," the NWS said.
The NWS is still not confident in totals because the freezing line "will make slow progress back to the north Friday into Saturday, but it is unclear how quickly this will occur. Northeast winds will have a tendency to reinforce the cold air."
"While confidence is relatively high in the occurrence of freezing rain, confidence in duration and exact amounts remains low," the NWS said.
According to the NWS, the accumulation of ice will be "highly dependent on the location and evolution of the surface freezing line."
As of the Wednesday morning advisory, the freezing line is "expected to be located across the Highway 60 corridor as precipitation begins Thursday night."
"It should be noted that temperature changes of just one degree could have major impacts on final ice accumulation totals," The NWS said.
Missourians who weathered the 2007 ice storm remember the kind of damage that accumulating ice can bring with loss of power and damage to trees. Many people were without power from anywhere between hours to weeks.
Laclede Electric Cooperative, a Pulaski and Laclede County electric company, issued a statement Wednesday morning in response to the growing concern of an ice-storm.
“I want to assure our members that our workforce is on alert and will be ready to step into action as needed,” reported CEO/General Manager Marc Roecker. “Key personnel have been meeting to monitor the weather forecasts closely and are beginning to deploy the Response and Disaster Recovery Plan. Our employees are prepared to work extended hours to make any inconvenience as short as possible. Our equipment is ready to dispatch at a moment’s notice and we have ample materials on supply for any situation.”
Laclede Electric Cooperative said that it would be providing frequent updates to local media, on its website, and Facebook so that "members can receive the most up-to-date information."
Additionally, the electric company would like to "encourage members to prepare for the possibility of outages by doing the following:
Keep a battery-operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries on hand.
Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources to prevent deadly carbon monoxide gas from building up in your home.
Have a supply of bottled water. Have items on hand that don’t require refrigeration and can be eaten without cooking or preparation.
If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered, life-sustaining medical equipment, review your family emergency plan for back-up power, or make arrangements to relocate when a warning is issued. Make sure to have enough prescription medicines on hand.
If you plan to use a portable generator, now would be a good time to make certain the generator is in proper working order. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never connect a portable generator to your home’s electrical system without a proper transfer switch.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has also issued an advisory for reduced travel in Missouri this weekend, warning that motorists "should avoid travel if possible in Missouri late Thursday night through Sunday."
“MoDOT crews will be out ahead of the storm using a mixture of chemicals and abrasives including salt brine and salt,” said MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer Becky Allmeroth. “Ice is the most difficult storm to fight. With large areas of the state expected to get a half inch or more, it can cause downed power lines and potential roadway closures. Motorists should avoid travel this weekend if at all possible.”
MoDOT's advisory warned that, if a section of highway is shut down for extended periods, "motorists should heed the warnings on the digital signs and exit the highway at the next available exit."
“All week, our crews have been gathering chain saws, chippers and other equipment that will be important when we have downed trees from the ice accumulation,” Allmeroth said. “If there are power outages, please treat dark signals as a four-way stop. Stay away from downed lines.”
MoDOT also urges drivers to consider putting chains of vehicles if travel is necessary and taking precautions such as having a full tank of gas, extra blankets and gloves, having water and snacks, wearing a seat-belt, leaving plenty of space behind other vehicles, giving snow plows plenty of room to work, and not to drive distracted.
"To check road conditions including winter weather conditions and traffic speeds, please check MoDOT’s Traveler Information Map at http://traveler.modot.org/map/. The map is also available as a free app on iTunes and Google play listed as MoDOT Traveler Information. MoDOT’s customer service center is available for information 24 hours a day at 1-888-ASK-MODOT (275-6636)," MoDOT said.