Updated at 9:57 a.m. Freezing rain, sleet and snow fell across Texas County this week, causing accidents, closing schools and halting commerce.
Reeling from two days of sleet that piled up quickly, the region escaped the worst brunt of the storm that hit areas near the Arkansas and Missouri border, where power lines and trees snapped.
Yet, the storm brought plenty of misery. Motorists struggled to keep moving, state and city crews worked to clear roadways and many workplaces closed. Classrooms were dark and sporting events cancelled.
By Wednesday morning, the worst was over. But the clean up continued amid hopes of temperatures rising to the mid-40s by Saturday. Missouri Department of Transportation crews continued to plow highways. The City of Houston was moving snow and ice out of the downtown business district at mid-morning Wednesday.
The National Weather Service said more than three inches of ice piled up in Texas County, along with another layer of snow. Luckily, most of the precipitation came in the form of sleet – rather than freezing rain. That kept heavy ice from downing power lines. The sound ice scrapers was common.
The foul weather did cause problems from motorists.
A Licking couple was hurt Monday night when their Ford SUV slid off icy U.S. 63 six miles south of their hometown, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.
Sgt. Jeff Kinder of the patrol said the vehicle driven by Eugene R. Ritz, 56, of Licking, left the roadway and overturned.
Ritz and a passenger, Lolita E. Ritz, 43, were taken to Texas County Memorial Hospital. Her injuries were moderate; his were classified as minor, said Kinder. Both were wearing seat belts. Members of the Texas County Rescue Squad also were called to the scene. The vehicle was totaled.
A Licking woman was injured late Monday night in a crash on U.S. 63 about four miles south of Edgar Springs. The patrol said a 1993 Jeep Cherokee driven by Timothy L. Casso, 21, of Licking, was traveling too fast on icy roadway, ran off the highway and overturned before coming to rest on its wheels.
Troopers said a passenger, Samantha A. Crum, 20, refused treatment at the scene. Her injuries were deemed minor, the patrol said.
6:25 p.m. MondayIcy-covered roads are causing problems for motorists this evening.
Injuries are reported in a slide off accident near U.S. 63 and Highway BB south of Licking. The Texas County Rescue Squad responded.
Another accident near Highway RA south of Houston occurred when the vehicle slid off the roadway. No injuries are reported.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is reporting that U.S. 63 in this area is completely ice covered.
Earlier: The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) continues to monitor the winter weather forecast for this evening and into tomorrow.
Due to predicted freezing rain, crews will treat once precipitation begins in order for the chemicals to have the greatest effect.
MoDOT Maintenance Engineer Henry Haggard said MoDOT has many practices in place that help make the process of clearing roads more efficient. “We begin by prioritizing routes by traffic volume,” he said. “By returning the most heavily traveled roads to near-normal driving conditions first, we can get the greatest number of people moving safely. Then we are able to move out to other routes, also according to volume.
Priority 1: Roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared, or treated, first. These include interstates and other major routes, which receive continuous treatment throughout a storm.
Priority 2: Lower-volume lettered and numbered routes are cleared next. Traffic on these routes may be impeded until higher-volume routes are open and clear.
“Freezing rain and ice can be challenging to remove,” Haggard said. “Once it arrives, our crews spread a mixture of abrasive material and calcium chloride and salt, on the roadways. Time then becomes the key. The chemicals have to sit on the road and be allowed to work. It does no good to apply the chemicals and then come right back over with the plow blading them off. By not having trucks running up and down the roadway, it may give the impression we are not actively treating the roads. In reality, we get better results and are more cost effective in the areas of fuel efficiency and man-hours.”
Motorists are urged to avoid travel in icy conditions if possible. Road condition information is available on our on-line traveler information map available at http://www.modot.org/southcentral/, by clicking on the winter road conditions icon. The map has road condition information for major highways throughout the state, as well as the southcentral district. Motorists can also call the MoDOT Customer Service Center, toll-free, at 1-888-ASK MoDOT (275-6636).
Direct link to the traveler information map: