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Science and the Environment

UPDATE: Freezing Rain Expected to Impact the Ozarks

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An ice storm continues into the weekend in the Ozarks.  So far, Andy Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield, said the Springfield area has seen a trace to one-tenth of an inch of ice accumulation with pockets of higher amounts, and the freezing rain continues.

"And we see on radar this morning areas of freezing rain continuing, and that will persist through at least mid day across the Springfield area as temperatures hover just below freezing," he said.

The question going into this afternoon, he said, is where the freezing line will end up.  But for now, they’re predicting freezing rain along the Highway 60 and I-44 corridors through at least mid day.  Areas north of Springfield are expected to see freezing rain into tonight.

Foster expects road conditions to deteriorate.

"The Department of Transportation did a great job getting out ahead of the storm, putting pre-treatment down, which has really helped the roads, at least the primary roads, this morning.  However, with temperatures remaining at or below freezing for a long duration, some of those wet roads could turn icy, so certainly be alert for variable road conditions across the area today and that possibility of very hazardous conditions especially as you head north of Springfield," he said.

You can check road conditions in Missouri at traveler.modot.org/map.

Many area schools are closed today, including Springfield Public Schools and Missouri State University. 

Original Story:  It was ten years ago today that a powerful ice storm hit the Ozarks leaving thousands of people without utilities for days.  Springfield and Greene County along with other parts of southwest Missouri saw major ice accumulation on trees and power lines, and the National Weather Service described the landscape afterwards as looking like a war zone.

Trees were uprooted and fell on houses and vehicles, and tree limbs were scattered across yards and streets.  About 200,000 residences were without power after the ice brought down electrical lines.

The ice storm expected to hit tonight won’t be nearly as bad for people in the Springfield area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Gene Hatch.

"The ice storm that we had back in '07 saw anywhere from half an inch to--some areas locally had an inch and a half of ice, which is significantly more than what we are expecting with this potential ice storm," said Hatch.

He said forecasters are expecting around a quarter to a half inch of ice accumulation for the Springfield area with higher amounts further north.  

According to Hatch, freezing rain is expected to begin towards the early morning hours tomorrow and continue into Saturday.  It’s still uncertain exactly where the freezing line will set up. 

"The only thing we are confident is it will be somewhere across southern Missouri.  Depending on how north it does set up--it could be as north as I-44 or as far south as the Arkansas state line--depending on where it ultimately sets up will have an impact on freezing rain and ice accumulation," Hatch said.

The impact on roadways will be determined by road temperatures, which he said currently are above freezing.

According to Hatch, power lines could be affected.  Most power lines, he said, can handle 1/4 inch of ice. But when they're coated with 1/2 to 3/4 inches of ice, they start to succumb to the weight.

He reminds people who might lose power because of the storm to not use generators or outdoor grills indoors due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

It won’t take long for the ice to disappear since temperatures are expected to warm to 50 degrees by Sunday.

Find more information on the ice storm from the National Weather Service here.

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