Winter storm brings more than 5 inches of snow
Union County residents found themselves digging out after a winter storm dropped more than 5 inches of snow on the area last weekend.
The weather during the period from Friday through Sunday was highlighted by lightning, thunder, heavy rain, snow, ice pellets and bitter cold temperatures.
As the snow and ice continued to melt on Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Paducah was calling for the possibility of heavy rain, along with more bitter cold and snow as the week progresses.
The weather service forecast was calling for the possibility of locally heavy rain and some minor wintry weather from Tuesday night into Wednesday.
“Combined with rapid snowmelt, the rain tonight could lead to flooding issues in low-lying and poorly drained areas. Creeks and streams may rise more quickly than usual since the ground is saturated from previous rain and snow events,” the weather service reported Tuesday morning on its website.
The weather service reported that cold air could change lingering rain to light snow before it came to an end on Wednesday.
As of Tuesday morning, the weather service’s forecast for the Anna area included:
Thursday, today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 37 degrees. Strong wind gusts.
Thursday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 11. Strong wind gusts.
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Friday: Mostly sunny with a high near 28.
Friday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21.
Saturday: A chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 35.
Saturday night: Slight chance of snow showers, with a low around 22.
Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 39.
Sunday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 25.
Overview of Storm
The weather service reported shared an overview of the strong storm system which swept through the region starting on Jan. 19.
Prior to the arrival of the wintry weather, flashes of lightning and the sound of thunder were heard Friday night, Jan. 18, in the Union County area.
As colder air quickly pushed southward, rain changed to snow as early as late Saturday morning, Jan. 19, in the Missouri Ozark Foothills.
The changeover then worked eastward through the afternoon and early evening hours.
Travel impacts were high, due to the combination of high snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, strong winds of 35 to more than 45 miles per hour, and rapidly falling temperatures below freezing.
Roads quickly became snow and ice covered, and visibility was very low.
Near-blizzard like conditions were experienced briefly in many areas.
There were numerous accidents reported and some roads were closed for a while during the heart of the event.
I-57 in Southern Illinois was among the worst hit, which caused the Illinois State Police to close the interstate from Mt. Vernon to Marion for a period of time on the evening of Jan. 19.
Highest Wind Gusts
The weather service reported that as surface low pressure began to move east of the region, the pressure gradient really ramped up during the afternoon and evening hours, leading to winds increasing.
Most locations experienced wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph, but there were some localized higher gusts.
Cape Girardeau observed 53 mph. Carbondale observed 52 mph. Paducah observed 46 mph winds.
The strong winds caused near-blizzard like conditions briefly during the afternoon and evening hours.
Heavy rain impacted the region during the first part of the event, the weather service reported.
Rainfall totals of 1 to 2 inches were common. This led to standing water on some roadways while the rain was occurring.
As temperatures rapidly plunged below freezing during the evening/overnight of Jan. 19, any residual moisture on surfaces flash froze. Some area rivers were also rising due to another round of rainfall.
The weather service reported that the heaviest snowfall totals were observed across portions of Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri, generally from around Ellsinore, Mo., and Cape Girardeau to Marion and Carmi.
Widespread snowfall totals of 4 to 6 inches occurred in this band, with pockets of 6 to 8 inches, and locally up to 9 inches in a few towns.
Convective elements, including thundersnow, helped enhance totals in some locations, like Marion.
Light snow began to fall at around 2 p.m. Saturday in the Union County area.
About an hour later, the area was experiencing nearly white-out conditions, with very heavy snow and strong winds. Streets, roads and highways quickly were covered by snow.
In the midst of the blizzard-like conditions, several traffic accidents were reported to have occurred along U.S. Route 51 near Makanda.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office reported early this week that numerous vehicles had slid off local roads and highways as a result of the weather. No major accidents were reported.
The Anna and Dongola fire departments responded to a call in the midst of the heavy snow and strong winds on Saturday afternoon.
Anna Fire Chief Gary Rider said that the fire occurred at a house on Spring Street in Dongola. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters were challenged in getting to the scene of the blaze by the snow and winds.
As a result of the winter storm, many area churches cancelled their Sunday morning services.
Local weather observer Dana Cross recorded 5 inches of snow on Saturday and another half an inch of snow on Sunday.
Cross said that the strongest wind gusts that he recorded measured 29 mph on Saturday.
Union County schools were not in session on Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
With many streets and rural roads still covered by snow and ice, classes were cancelled on Tuesday.