Quincyans dig out from 5 inches of snow after first storm of winter

Malik Gateswood, 13, of Quincy, crashes to the ground as his sister Emerson Collins, 7, tackles him during a snowball fight Saturday morning near their home. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Dec. 15, 2013 12:41 am Updated: Dec. 29, 2013 2:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

After a pre-winter storm dumped 5 inches of snow on Quincy late Friday and early Saturday, some activities in town were called off because of the weather.

But not at the Quincy Family YMCA.

Garry Weirather, the agency's property

manager, headed out to the Maine Street facility at 3 a.m. Saturday and spent the next six hours using a tractor without a cab to plow parts of the parking lot.

Weirather was just helping out. "We have a very dependable subcontractor who gets the bulk of it," he said.

But with the help of Weirather and some other YMCA employees who showed up early, the YMCA managed to open for business right on schedule at 7 a.m. Saturday.

And it was a good thing, too, because lots of kids, parents and coaches started arriving early for the youth basketball league's annual draft and clinic. In addition, many of the Y's die-hard exercise enthusiasts didn't want to miss their morning workouts, so they were there, too, at the opening bell.

Getting open on time during inclement weather is a major goal for YMCA employees. They realize lots of Quincyans rely on the agency's services and have come to expect they'll be able to find an accessible parking spot, even in snowy weather.

"We pride ourselves on getting things cleaned up and staying open," Weirather said. "We have a lot of older folks who use the YMCA, and it gets them in and out of their cars safely."

People were digging out across the region after the storm dumped more than 8 inches of snow on some areas. The National Weather Service said one portion of the Macomb area received 10.5 inches of snow.

While Quincy's Lock and Dam 21 logged 5 inches during the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m. Saturday, Lock and Dam 20 in Canton, Mo., got 8 inches, according to the NWS.

Snowfall was less severe farther to the south, with Hannibal, Mo., getting 4.2 inches, Monroe City 4, Bowling Green 3.2, Shelbina 3, Louisiana 2.5 and Clarksville 2.4.

On the eastern side of the region, Rushville led the way with 8.5 inches.

Street crews in Quincy battled the storm all Friday night and for most of Saturday. They finally called it quits for the day around 7 p.m.

Marty Stegeman, director of Quincy's Central Services Department, said his crews got especially busy late Friday when the storm showed renewed vigor after a temporary hiatus.

"It got really heavy overnight, and we ended up losing some ground to the weight of the snow," he said.

Stegeman said the snow was full of moisture, which is problematic for street crews.

"It was really hard to plow, and it packed down really tight," he said. "As it freezes, you can't pull it off the ground."

The city's dozen plow trucks managed to keep the main thoroughfares open and in good shape most of Saturday, but side streets were more difficult to keep clear. Stegeman said crews still were working on many side streets early Saturday evening.

"Some of the neighborhood streets are a little less satisfactory than others but are still in good shape," he said. "All are passable."

Local highways remained snow-covered in many places.

Trooper Mike Kindhart, safety education officer for the Illinois State Police in Pittsfield, said troopers in District 20 were kept busy responding to calls to assist motorists.

"We did have a few minor property-damage accidents and a few minor injury accidents, but nothing that was severe," he said. "There were a lot of vehicles off the roadway, but nothing major to report."

Kindhart said even though plow crews have done a good job keeping area highways mostly clear and drivable, motorists should remain on alert for patches of "black ice" -- melted snow, now refrozen -- that may not be readily visible.

"Coming into the dark time of night, that's when we worry the most because you're not able to see some of those spots on the roadway," he said. "We need people to proceed with caution and make sure that you're still taking measures to drive safely."

Similar sentiments were expressed by Capt. James E. Wilt, commanding officer of the Missouri Highway Patrol's 16-county Troop B, headquartered in Macon. Wilt said troopers investigated a large volume of traffic crashes and slide-offs in Northeast Missouri during the Friday/Saturday storm. Statewide, he said, nine weather-related traffic fatalities were reported in Missouri.

"At the present time, all of the roadways in the Troop B area are either completely or partially snow- and ice-covered, making traveling dangerous," he said Saturday. "Unless absolutely necessary, the patrol asks motorists to refrain from driving until road conditions improve."