Wintry weather shutters FLW, area schools, county courthouse

Darrell Todd Maurina

Wintry weather shutters FLW, area schools, county courthouse

Waynesville snowplow crews battle winter weather conditions early Tuesday morning to clear snow around the courthouse square.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Jan. 27, 2009) — Severe weather conditions Monday night and early Tuesday morning shuttered Fort Leonard Wood, all area school districts, business offices at the Pulaski County courthouse but not the sheriff’s department or emergency operations, and various activities at many community organizations.

Early Monday evening, Fort Leonard Wood announced that post personnel should report on a delayed schedule. However, by 10:30 p.m. Monday, post spokesman Mike Alley said only key and essential personnel should report for work Tuesday and those with questions should contact their supervisors for further information.

“All roads at Fort Leonard Wood are red for road conditions,” Alley said. “While Polla Road is not closed thus far, it is in poor condition and we encourage people to use the main gate if at all possible.”

Alley said a decision would be made Tuesday morning on whether it would be necessary to close Polla Road and Fort Leonard Wood’s west gate.

Missouri Department of Transportation personnel reported at 6 a.m. Tuesday that all of Highway 17 in Pulaski County was snow-covered, though areas north of Pulaski County on Highway 17 were only partly covered. Interstate 44 in Pulaski and Phelps counties from Highway 7 south of Richland to Rolla was partly snow-covered; areas of the interstate west of Pulaski County and east of Rolla were completely snow-covered.

Fort Leonard Wood reported at 6 a.m. Tuesday that all post roads were only 25 percent cleared and were still in “red” condition. Red condition, according to post documents, means that conditions are “extremely dangerous,” — more specifically, stopping will be difficult or impossible at most intersections, “clearing operations have not kept priority number one roads easily passable” and “black ice or ice sheeting has made passage hazardous.” Under red conditions, driving above 10 to 15 mph can cause vehicles to lose traction and safe stopping distance is significantly increased, according to post documents.

Many drivers heeded warnings to stay off the roads and while numerous slide-offs and minor crashes were reported, only one serious crash happened early Monday evening as the snowfall began.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, a wreck at 5:20 p.m. on Highway U about five miles west of Crocker injured two people.

Troopers reported that Jeffrey D. Porter, 33, of Crocker, was westbound on Highway U in a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado when he lost control on an ice-covered roadway, slid into the path of an eastbound 2008 GMC Canyon SUV driven by Nicole R. Hanshew, 24, of Newburg, and was struck on the driver’s side.

Porter was not hurt but Hanshew and her passenger, Jason H. Sherrer, 26, also of Newburg, were transported by Pulaski County Ambulance District paramedics to Lake Regional Medical Center; Hanshew had moderate injuries and Sherrer’s injuries were minor.

All three people had been wearing their seat belts, troopers reported.

Hanshew’s GMC Canyon was totaled and Porter’s Silverado was extensively damaged. Both were removed by Gene’s Towing.

Outside the immediate area, multiple crashes at 6:22 a.m. Tuesday on mile marker 174 on westbound I-44 closed all lanes with an expected clearance time of three hours, MoDOT personnel reported. That crash is located just northeast of Arlington Outer Road and the BNSF railroad tracks.

Drivers who feared wrecking their cars created a different problem on the intersection of Longview Road and Highway 17 north of Waynesville when nearly a dozen people abandoned their cars at the bottom of a steep hill that leads to Shalom Mountain and Northern Heights Estates. Trooper Kyle Baldwin reported Monday evening that he had to call Jack’s Towing to remove several cars that were blocking traffic and making it impossible for snowplows to clear the roadway.

Weather conditions are expected to remain poor for the rest of Tuesday.

According to the Springfield office of the National Weather Service, sleet, snow and freezing drizzle will continue throughout the Ozarks on Tuesday with a gradual transition to snow before precipitation ends this evening. Some precipitation may be heavy, and a winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Total snow accumulation in the Fort Leonard Wood area is expected to be about 1 to 2 inches, according to National Weather Service reports, with about a fifth of an inch of ice. Precipitation is expected to end Tuesday evening with mostly cloudy weather conditions, with a slight chance of snow later Tuesday night.