Heaviest snow expected south of Hannibal

The first snowstorm of 2019, the likes of which have not been seen in the region since 2014, is expected to hit Northeast Missouri this weekend.

Patrick Walsh, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in St. Louis, said that Hannibal could receive from 5-7 inches of snow.

"You are kind of on the northern tier of the heavier snow," he said Thursday morning.

The chance of snow begins Friday afternoon in Marion County. It will stick around at least through the first half of the weekend.

"Friday night into early Saturday is when the more moderate snow (will fall). After that you're going to get a lighter snow, more snow showers," Walsh said. "It's not necessarily a gigantic storm. You'll get the big push and then remnants afterwards."

Marisa Ellison, communications manager for MoDOT's Northeast District, said driving conditions could quickly deteriorate.

"There could be some dicey travel for folks Friday afternoon into the evening and even into Saturday," she said.

MoDOT will not wait for road conditions to deteriorate before it starts sending out its 160 plows across the Northeast District's 17 counties.

"Our plows will be out pretty much as soon as the first flakes fly," Ellison said. "We will treat the higher volume roads first and continue on them until they are cleared. Since the storm will be lengthy, we will have to make a few passes on the lower volume roads as soon as we can get the major roads passable."

Unlike with some winter storms, MoDOT will not be going out in advance of the snow to pretreat roadways.

"Since this will be heavy, wet snow, and the temps are not expected to be much below freezing, we're not pretreating. The pretreatment would be plowed or washed off," Ellison said.

Whether a storm's snow is "wet" or "dry" is based solely on the air temperature, Walsh said.

"Temperatures are going to hover close to freezing throughout the (storm's) duration, so there is not going to be any kind of brutal cold where it would be a very dry and cold snow," he said.

Walsh and Ellison encourage the public to stay off the roads this weekend if at all possible.

"Get what you need before Friday afternoon, then please stay home for the weekend and cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs," Ellison said, referring to Saturday's NFL playoff game in Kansas City. "If you do you have to go out, please stay at least 100 feet behind our plows, slow down and remember, we haven't driven in snow very much this year, so be prepared by taking your time or changing your plans."

danny.henley@courierpost.com