Rain on East Hartley Street

Heavy rains on Jan. 13 filled a ditch with water along East Hartley Street in Ozark. Snow routes, however, would not be needed as a result of a weather system that dropped rain, but not snow, on central Christian County.

It was a good dress rehearsal, anyhow.

I was hunkered in my bunker and prepared for the worst. My warm clothes were clean, my shovel was prepared for shoveling, and I had hit the store to stock up on milk and bread. In an emergency, I wouldn’t be caught without any milk sandwiches.

Then the winter weather system tracked off to the north and missed my part of Christian County. That’s not to make light of our neighbors to the north who did get snow, ice and a generally miserable experience. I also understand there was some ice in eastern Christian County around Bruner and Elkhead that caused some trouble. White River Valley Electric Cooperative, which serves more than 7,000 customers in Christian County, reported some power outages, but their restoration times were relatively quick.

Some of us just got rained on. 

Rather than using this event as a reason to poke fun at emergency management officials or meteorologists who “can’t ever get it right,” I’m choosing to look back on the rains of Jan. 11-13 as a learning experience.

This was a good reminder of the peace of mind that a little bit of preparation can do.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol urges everyone to pay attention to changing weather conditions and make smart decisions about traveling. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation also reminded us about its online traveler information map (http://traveler.modot.org/map/), which is updated all time time, rain or shine. It’s actually a handy tool to use before you take a road trip in sunny and dry conditions, because it contains the latest road construction updates. I need to be better about using it.

Similarly, when you’re out on the road and you don’t have a smart phone, you can still get road reports by calling the Missouri Road Condition Report at 1-888-275-6636.

Events, or non-events like what we just experienced in Nixa and Ozark, are a good time to brush up on winter weather driving tips. The safest tip of them all is to avoid travel at all costs during severe weather, especially ice storms and snow storms.

Avoiding travel may be the safest decision.

Now is a good time to stock your vehicle with all of the items you’ll need to stay safe in the event that you must drive in snowy conditions. Items such as an ice scraper, jumper cables, nonperishable food, bottled water, sand or kitty litter, blankets and extra winter clothing might be the ultimate difference maker in an emergency.

By Saturday night, I was tired of eating milk sandwiches, so I ventured out to have dinner at a friend’s house after I finished watching the Kansas City Chiefs win a playoff game.

It was a good time to remind myself of what to do in the event that my car crashed or slid off the road. The Missouri State Highway Patrol advises a driver to stay inside the vehicle with their seat belt fastened.

“The safest course of action is to contact law enforcement by cell phone and remain inside your vehicle. If there are no injuries in the crash, the vehicles should be moved off the roadway to a safer location while waiting for law enforcement to arrive,” the Highway Patrol stated in some information that circulated prior to the winter weather event.

On top of all that, the winter weather event that wasn’t reminded me to allow some extra time to travel to my destination safely. It’s always good to get there fast, but in the rain and snow, it’s better to slow down and allow more time to negotiate intersections.

We’re ready for the first real snowfall of 2019.

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