Missourians urged to put safety first as powerful multi-faceted storm system moves across state
Flooding, severe storms, freezing rain and snow are forecast to threaten parts of Missouri over next 36 hours
JEFFERSON CITY – The State Emergency Management Agency urges Missourians to closely follow local weather forecasts, check conditions before traveling and limit travel as conditions deteriorate through Saturday night as hazardous weather moves across the state. This afternoon, the State Emergency Operations Center activated to Level 4, which means SEMA team members will be actively monitoring and tracking potential threats overnight.
Friday morning, parts of northwest Missouri had already experienced freezing rain and a light glazing of ice. By early afternoon, parts of southwest Missouri were already under tornado warnings. The Missouri forecast includes heavy rain, potential flash flooding and river flooding, snow and freezing rain.
“This will be a powerful, dangerous, multi-faceted storm for the state of Missouri,” National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Kevin Deitsch said. “First, the warmer side of the storm system will bring life threatening flash flooding and renewed river flooding to much of the central and eastern portions of the state. Additionally, a few severe thunderstorms capable of locally damaging winds to 60 mph will be possible into Friday evening. Finally, as cold air wraps into the system, freezing rain changing to snow will accumulate across the northwest half of the state Friday night into Saturday.”
The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for 85 counties extending from central Missouri to southeast Missouri until noon on Saturday, with the potential for isolated tornadoes and strong, damaging winds from thunderstorms tonight into early Saturday morning. A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for 53 counties in central to northwest Missouri, with the combination of freezing rain, sleet and snow all a concern.
“We encourage all Missourians to avoid non-essential travel in order to ensure emergency crews and first responders can do their work safely,” SEMA Director Ron Walker said. “Please continue to pay attention to the local weather forecasts and listen to local leadership if there is an emergency in your community.”
The Missouri Department of Transportation began preparation for this complex and challenging weather system on Thursday. Due to the heavy rains preceding the forecasted ice and snow, treating roads ahead of time was not practical in some areas of the state. MoDOT crews will be staffed through the duration of the winter event working on clearing the roads.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Marine Operations troopers and swift water rescue personnel are pre-staged across the state to assist as needed with flooding response. Troopers are also working 10-hour shifts in areas that may be affected by snow and ice.
SEMA, MoDOT, and MSHP advise Missourians to:
- Follow local weather forecast for updates, along with news coverage of local conditions and the MoDOT Traveler Information Map: traveler.modot.org
- Limit travel when possible.
- Slow down and allow extra time when travel is necessary.
- Never drive through floodwater even if it appears shallow.
- Increase following distance.
- Beware of black ice, particularly on bridges and overpasses.
- Allow emergency responders and road crews room to do their work.
- Check on the elderly and those who may need additional help.
- Prepare for power outages by charging your devices.