The St. Louis region braced itself for a major winter storm over the weekend, but ice accumulation totals came up less than what meteorologists had predicted.
Meteorologists said temperatures weren’t quite low enough to create the perfect storm.
The National Weather Service of St. Louis had predicted last week that the area would get enough ice that it would potentially weigh down power lines and trees as well as create hazardous road conditions. It estimated that the St. Louis region would receive one-quarter to one-half inch of ice between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon.
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So, what happened?
For one, meteorologists at the National Weather Service had mentioned before and after the winter storm that ground temperatures were warm unlike last month when freezing drizzle quickly formed a thin sheet of ice on the grass and roadways.
“A quarter to a half inch was definitely within the ballpark we had. As far as the impact, during the forecast process, we definitely wanted to put out the message that we knew these were possible,” said meteorologist Charley Kelly. “Now given some of the factors that were played, making the impacts as minimal as they were, we had ground temperatures in this area before the event that were in the low 40s and even during the event that were around the mid-30s.”
The National Weather Service also said temperatures above ground had also lingered at 32 degrees or slightly below. The ice that formed overnight Friday had melted by the early afternoon Saturday in the metro-east when the temperature reached a high of 35.
“Temperatures were a big, big factor in this,” Kelly said. “If they were a couple degrees colder, it definitely could have been a lot worse, but the way that they hovered in the ways that they did, that was also a vindicating factor with this storm. If they were a little bit cooler, the impacts would have been much more extensive over the area.”
Kelly said the National Weather Service issued preliminary data on its website Monday morning showing local storm totals reported across the region by trained spotters, emergency management officials and citizens.
A quarter inch of ice was measured by late Saturday morning in places south of St. Louis, including St. Francois, Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve counties in Missouri.
Some counties in Southern Illinois also reported at least a quarter inch of ice. Counties south of St. Clair reported higher amounts of freezing rain, including Monroe and Randolph counties. A quarter inch of ice was measured late Friday afternoon in Waterloo by the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency. Monroe County officials also noted at least two trees that fell blocking roads in the Waterloo and Monroe City areas due to ice accumulation. Some power outages were also reported during the ice storm in Waterloo and Maeystown.
Other areas in the metro-east, including St. Clair, Clinton and Madison counties, reported less ice between Friday and Saturday. One-tenth of an inch of freezing rain was estimated in New Baden and Highland. The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency reported that it measured a little less than one-fifth of an inch of freezing rain in Freeburg that had fallen by Friday afternoon.