SNOW COLD! Ozark County hit with largest snow accumulation in years, along with bitter sub-zero temperatures
Like much of the country, Ozark County is shivering through a massive winter weather system this week that on Monday left many local areas buried beneath a heavy blanket of snow and most highways and county roadways completely covered despite the best road-clearing efforts of the Missouri Department of Transportation and county Road and Bridge Department employees.
The system's impact began over the weekend when freezing temperatures moved in, accompanied Sunday evening by snow that by Monday morning was 3 to 7 inches deep around the county. The National Weather Service, on its website, said the "central third of the U.S." was impacted by "arctic air with frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills."
Ozark County schools were closed Monday, either due to the weather or their regular four-day-a-week schedules. Many area offices and businesses, including the Ozark County Courthouse, Gainesville City Hall, post offices and banks, were closed Monday in observance of the Presidents Day holiday.
Both electric cooperatives that serve Ozark County, White River Valley Electric Co-op and Howell-Oregon Electric Co-op, issued extreme weather alerts, asking members to decrease their power usage. The two cooperatives, including many other utility providers throughout the central U.S., “continue to exceed all-time electricity demand,” according to an announcement by HOE. They warned of possible “rolling blackouts” as the frigid temps continued.
Tuesday, all Ozark County schools were closed due to the inclement weather. The Times office was closed Monday and Tuesday due to the weather, with employees working remotely from home.
Temperatures were in single digits most of Monday and fell below zero in some areas Monday night. By Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service was warning that wind chill values could be as low as 17 degrees below zero. More snow was predicted Tuesday night, with an additional 6 to 8 inches possible.
At press time Tuesday, Times staffers were considering options for how this week's edition could be mailed and distributed if the incoming additional snow made roads impassable. In normal conditions, the newspaper is picked up from the printer in Springfield Tuesday evening and mailed from the Gainesville post office Wednesday morning, with employees driving routes to deliver copies of the Times to other post offices, stores and newsstands around the area. While it's hoped that schedule can still be followed, delays may occur, depending on the weather and the road conditions, and some subscribers may get this edition later than usual.
The frigid temperatures are predicted to continue through the week, with highs ranging from the teens to the mid-30s and lows predicted to be drop to around 6 degrees Thursday night.
The weekend holds a promise of relief, with highs in the mid-40s predicted by the National Weather Service for Saturday and Sunday.