This week's storm milder than last week's weathermaker

Nicholas Johannes, 13, of Quincy, shovels snow Tuesday from the First Mid-Illinois Bank parking lot in downtown Quincy. Out of school for the day, Johannes was helping his grandfather, Chuck VanCamp, with snow-clearing jobs. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Feb. 27, 2013 10:16 am Updated: Mar. 20, 2013 12:15 pm

Herald-Whig Senior Writer

This week's winter storm, like most sequels, got mixed reviews.

The massive storm that dumped up to 8 inches of snow in some parts of the Tri-state region early Tuesday has continued on a slow march to the northeast. A dusting of snow fell in the Quincy area early Wednesday. Accumulations of up to an inch or more are possible as parts of the storm's trailing edge come through by early Friday.

"We got lucky. It stayed pretty moderate on temperatures," said Marty Stegeman, director of Quincy Department of Central Services.

Those warmer temperatures, ranging between 30 and 35 degrees, made the salt and other melting agents more effective. Snow plow operators said the heavy snow did not blow back onto roadways.

As the storm approached on Monday night, Stegeman said forecasts called for heavy snowfall, but that was not borne out locally. Stegeman estimates that this week's storm dropped "5 inches tops" in Quincy, compared with the 7 to 9 inches that fell last week in a short amount of time.

In parts of Northeast Missouri, the storm was stronger than the one that swept through five days earlier.

Sgt. Brent Bernhardt of the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Troop B said road crews were able to keep roads passable in part because drivers stayed off roads during the heaviest snowfall.

The Missouri Department of Transportation issued a rare "no travel" advisory, urging people to stay off highways except in case of a dire emergency. Conditions were so bad that some snowplows slid into ditches, underlining the danger even to well-equipped travelers in other parts of the state.

"Some communities lost power and in those areas our troopers helped utility crews with traffic assistance," Bernhardt said.

Warm temperatures and the timing of snowfall helped moderate the storm's impact on drivers. There were no reports of vehicles sliding off the road in Shelby County, Mo., during the day and no reports of serious traffic crashes in the region.

Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Eddie Landis said drivers fared better than they did last week.

"It was a little slushy when I came on shift at 10 a.m., but it was pretty clear by noon. It was a lot calmer than everybody expected," Landis said.

In Edina, Mo., one weather watcher reported 8 inches of new snowfall.

Several Hannibal, Mo., merchants braved the weather to man their shops on Tuesday, but said the customer numbers were very low.

Forecasters said snow flurries are possible through early Friday. Accumulations are expected to be 1.5 inches or less, according to Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's northern Illinois office.

Elsewhere, the storm left some locally heavy snowfall.

Warrensburg, Mo., had 14 inches of snow by 10 a.m. Tuesday and neighborhoods in south Kansas City had more than 10 inches of snow by 8 a.m.

The storm was so big that at times it stretched from the Oklahoma Panhandle to the Great Lakes. Chicago received 2-4 inches of snow Tuesday, but some northern suburbs got up to 7 1/2 inches.

Fueled by a strong low pressure system, the crescent-shape storm began Sunday in Texas, then headed north. On Monday, whiteout conditions had made virtually all Texas Panhandle roads impassable. A hurricane-force gust of 75 mph was recorded in Amarillo, which got 17 inches. The heaviest snowfall was in Follett, Texas, with 21 inches.

Primary roadways in the Texas Panhandle reopened Tuesday as sunny conditions began to thaw ice and snow-packed surfaces slickened by a blizzard that blanketed the region.

The system, more common in early spring, contained so much moisture that it was difficult to forecast where it would rain or where it would snow -- or even if the snow would accumulate, Friedlein said.

The back-to-back storms have raised hopes that the moisture might ease the drought conditions that have gripped the Midwest for more than a year. The snowpack now resting on the Plains will help, but it's no drought-buster, experts say.

"If we get one more storm like this, with widespread 2 inches of moisture, we will continue to chip away at the drought," said meteorologist Mike Umscheid of the National Weather Service office in Dodge City. "But to claim the drought is over or ending is way too premature."

At least three deaths were blamed on the blizzard.


The Associated Press provided information for this story.