By JoEllen Black/Richmond News
Ray County and the Kansas City metro area is bracing for a major winter storm today – one that may rival February 2011’s blast that dumped around a foot of snow.
The National Weather Service is predicting six to 10 inches of snow with a sleet mixture beginning at Thursday’s morning rush hour. The most significant amount of precipitation – around 4 to 8 inches – is expected to fall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Breezy conditions may also cause drifting snow.
Ray County Commission and the city of Richmond took advantage of the calm before the storm Wednesday to pre-treat its hard-top roads.
Mike Twyman, western commissioner, said the county’s 15-man road crew started monitoring road conditions around midnight Thursday and will work around the clock to get county roads clear.
City staff from other departments will be pulled in to help the street department man its five snowplows, City Administrator Ron Brohammer said. The city is also taken preventive measures against a possible interruption of water service should the storm knock out power to its wells.
“We have a generator pre-positioned near one of water wells in the event we lose power,” Brohammer said.
He said the precaution was taken to ensure a steady supply of water to the city’s 2,000-plus customers.
The city also imposed its snow ordinance. Parked cars along emergency routes need to be relocated so plows can clear roads, he said.
The city will operate with only essential staff Thursday, and has canceled its joint meeting of ordinance and public safety committees planned for tonight. The meeting has been rescheduled for Monday at 5 p.m.
Ray County Commission announced Wednesday the courthouse would be closed Thursday because of the impending storm. Eighth Circuit Court will be open today with a skeleton crew, according to Judge David Miller’s office, as they work through settlement conferences.
Richmond, Hardin-Central, Orrick and Lawson schools were all closed Thursday.
Friday’s Richmond Masonic Lodge fish and mountain oyster fry has been canceled and will reschedule at a later date. The drama, “Eternity,” slated for Sunday and Monday at Richmond Assembly of God church has been rescheduled for March 10-11.
Missouri lawmakers left the state Capitol early this week after the House and Senate leadership dismissed the legislators to prepare for an incoming winter storm.
Rep. Delus Johnson, R-St. Joseph, said lawmakers wanted to avoid being stuck in the Capitol, which happened during the 2011 snowstorm.
“What we saw happen here two years ago – we had 18 and a half inches of snow – shut the Capitol down, (we) had people in a mess everywhere, so we’re definitely shutting down early,” Johnson said.
State lawmakers managed to complete some legislative work before adjourning for the week.
The House gave first-round approval to a bill that would allow voters in University of Missouri System extension districts to approve taxes dedicated to funding the system’s extension program. The House also endorsed a measure that would help fund tax increment financing districts for disaster areas around the state, such as Joplin.
The Senate gave first-round approval to a bill that would name a new Interstate 70 bridge over the Mississippi River after Stan “The Man” Musial and Andy Gammon, a worker who was killed while working on the bridge. Senators passed a bill that would require the Division of Workers’ Compensation to maintain a public searchable database of workers’ compensation claims.
In a press release, MoDOT asks drivers to stay off the roads during the storm. Those who must drive should take their cell phone and winter survival supplies, such as blankets, extra clothing and food. If stranded, MoDOT advises that occupants stay in their vehicles and call 911.
To view Missouri road conditions, go to www.modot.org to access the traveler information map. Motorists can also call for road conditions at 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (888-275-6636).