COLUMBIA – The Missouri Department of Transportation’s Central District is preparing for a winter storm headed for mid-Missouri.
Central District crews will arrive at 10 p.m. Wednesday to begin preparing roads before snow is expected to arrive early Thursday morning.
MoDOT says his biggest concern isn’t the 2 to 4 inches of snow, but the high winds that could make it harder to keep roads safe.
Wind gusts up to 45 mph are possible, according to KOMU 8 Early Warning Weather.
“In addition to snow removal, our concern is really about blowing snow and snow drifts,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer Machel Watkins.
The wind could blow the snow around and re-close the road they cleared, the department said.
“It’s entirely possible that we could be plowing a road and the wind is like that — it could look like we’re not there even though we are,” said Central District Maintenance Engineer Jason Shaffer.
MoDOT faces a statewide shortage of 1,000 drivers, which will also complicate cleanup efforts. Crews will work 12-hour shifts to weather the storm. That’s up from the department’s 900-person shortfall in October.
Shafer said MoDOT will do what they can to keep the roads clear, but drivers should be patient.
“We’re going to go all our roads,” Shaffer said. “It will take us a while to do that because it’s going to be a very deep storm.”
The department is going to prioritize cleaning major roads like Interstate 70 and US Highway 63 before moving on to smaller roads.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. John Holtz reiterated one message: Stay off the roads.
But if you must hit the roads, Holtz said, bring water and snacks and make sure you have a full tank of gas.
Bruce Bender was filling up his car at a gas station along Grindstone Parkway and Highway 63 before temperatures were expected to drop below freezing this weekend.
“[I’m] Trying to stay on top of things. “It’s better to fill in now than to take a chance and get stuck somewhere,” Bender said.