It's time to put away the bikes and get out the snowshoes.
Winter is coming to Mid-Missouri tonight, and the National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning beginning at noon Friday and extending to midnight Saturday.
The warning cautions 5-8 inches of snow for Cole, Boone, Callaway, Osage and Moniteau counties, among others, with more snow expected in Mid-Missouri than to the west, from whence the storm comes. Also in the path are Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis and Indianapolis.
Meteorologists say this is expected to be the first true winter storm of 2019.
"We're looking at probably 4-6 inches of snow Friday afternoon," said Patrick Walsh, a NWS meteorologist in the St. Louis office. "It will start Friday afternoon and go into late Saturday night and early Sunday morning."
Expect to see a few rain showers starting about 11 a.m., then snow about 1 p.m. in Jefferson City and Fulton. There could be some sleet and ice before the big storm arrives, but Walsh said not to expect much of that. He expects just enough early precipitation to announce the big show.
"Temps ahead of the storm will be in the mid 30s, and it will cool as the snow comes in," Walsh added. "It should be in the low 30s Friday and Saturday, but not windy."
Wind should hover at less than 10 mph, he said, so there won't be the heavy drifting one sees in blizzards.
With no sun in the works for Sunday, don't expect much melting to occur, but some afternoon snow showers could.
"It's the weekend, so if you can stay home, stay home," Walsh warned.
Jefferson City Operation Division Director Britt Smith said the Jefferson City Public Works Department anticipates operating snow plows continuously beginning Friday and continuing through Sunday. The department is bringing in extra people to help sub in for drivers.
"This will be taxing on our equipment and people," Smith said. "We've made plans where we can get some extra folks in and be able to move drivers in and out of the trucks."
Jefferson City and Cole County staff have been preparing for the winter weather since the forecast started looking grim for the area, checking over vehicles to make sure they are prepared.
Despite having a snow plow go out of service last fall, Smith said the city's department is "cautiously optimistic" that its aging fleet will handle the upcoming snow.
Cole County Public Works Director Larry Benz said the county has plenty of snow materials and is prepared for the upcoming weather event.
Once the snow gets a little closer, Smith and Benz said, the departments will decide when to pre-treat the streets Friday. With a chance of rain shortly before the snow, Benz added, the Cole County Public Works Department doesn't want to pre-treat too early and risk rain washing off the salt.
While 4-8 inches of snow in Jefferson City isn't unheard of, Smith said, the town hasn't received that much snow in awhile. Benz cautioned drivers to give themselves extra time to arrive at destinations and to give the snow plows time to work. If residents can park in driveways and off the streets, he added, that will help the snow plows clear the roads.
Where to stay warm
The Salvation Army Center of Hope anticipates Jefferson City warming stations will be busy. Warming stations are located at The Salvation Army (927 Jefferson St.), Capital Mall (3600 Country Club Drive), Clarke Senior Center (1310 Linden Drive) and Missouri River Regional Library (214 Adams St.), according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Center of Hope Director Brian Vogeler said The Salvation Army's warming station will be open all day. It will close for short periods after meals so employees can clean — from 7:30-8 a.m., 12:45-1:15 p.m. and 6-6:30 p.m.
There also will be cold cots available beginning at 8 p.m. at The Salvation Army. The nonprofit offers cold cots for overnight stays as long as the temperature is below 40 degrees.
The Salvation Army has been offering cold cots for several weeks now, Vogeler said, with the colder nights resulting in more than 20 cots. The nonprofit may bring out more cots during the winter weather event if there is a need, he added.