A winter storm watch that went in effect Tuesday evening will last through Thursday morning for Howell, Shannon and Oregon counties, according to the regional National Weather Service office in Springfield.
The Little Rock, Ark., office has issued a similar warning beginning tonight through Thursday morning for counties in the north central part of Arkansas, including Sharp and Izard.
Wintery precipitation will overspread the region, expected to bring freezing drizzle, freezing rain, sleet and light snow to the area, with ice accumulations potentially ranging in Howell and Oregon counties from two tenths to a quarter of an inch.
The NWS warns that power outages and tree damage are likely due to ice and travel could be nearly impossible, with hazardous conditions impacting commuters.
West Plains residents can report power outages by calling 256-7176 during office hours or the West Plains Police Department at 256-2244. Howell-Oregon Electric Cooperative customers should report power outages by calling the toll free line at 855-385-9903.
The Missouri Department of Transportation advises drivers to slow down and to be wary of slick road conditions, especially bridges and overpasses. According to MoDOT, the chemicals used to treat the roads lose their effectiveness in bitterly cold temperatures.
According to Public Information Officer Sgt. Jeff Kinder of the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Troop G in Willow Springs, the weather has already impacted traffic: Between noon Monday and press time, Troop G had 16 vehicle crashes, five crashes with injuries. Troopers also responded to 70 calls for service, with 16 calls for stranded motorists during that time frame.
For a map of Missouri highway conditions, visit traveler.modot.org/map, or download the Traveler’s Map application on Google Play or the App Store.
In its seven-day forecast for the West Plains area, the NWS shows freezing temperatures expected to remain through next week, with the low on Saturday night forecasted to get down to 1 degree below zero. Daytime highs are expected to range from the lower teens to lower 20s into the weekend, with wind chill values making it feel 10 or 20 degrees below zero.
It looks as though the cold will potentially peak on Sunday, Valentine’s Day, when daytime highs are expected to be int he single digits to lower teens, according to the NWS.
With freezing temperatures lasting for an extended period of time, the chances of water pipes bursting increases.
The American Red Cross suggests residents protect pipes by ensuring all garage doors are closed, opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, and to to move harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of reach of children.
Let cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes. Running water through pipes — even at a trickle — helps prevent pipes from freezing.
It also advised to set the thermostat for the same temperature both during the day and at night. This can lead to a higher heating bill, but it may prevent a much more costly repair if pipes freeze and burst.
The Humane Society recommends pet owners bring outdoor pets inside during cold overnight hours or to make sure they have suitable shelter outside and that they have access to unfrozen water and food.
It is also recommended to wipe the feet of dogs after walking on salted services as salt can irritate their pads and cause them to lick them, which can cause further irritation and possible salt poisoning.
After a brief respite from duty after handler Officer Paul Bradshaw suffered a leg injury during the pursuit of a suspect, West Plains Police Department canine officer Loki has been temporarily assigned to Cpl. Wes Stuart.
Stuart has previous experience as a K9 handler, and after a two-week bonding period, training and certification, Stuart and Loki assisted in the apprehension of one suspect, and, during a traffic stop, the location and seizure of alleged drug paraphernalia.
According to a press release provided by Public Information Officer John Murrell. both incidents occurred within hours of each other, the night of Feb. 1 and just after midnight on Feb. 2.
On Feb. 1, deputies with the Howell County Sheriff’s Department were involved in a vehicle pursuit, during which the suspect’s vehicle crashed and the driver fled on foot. Deputies contacted the police department for assistance, and Stuart and Loki tracked the suspect's scent through a wooded area, into a clearing, to a detached garage at a residence on Pamela Drive, where the he was found lying under bushes.
A short time later, the suspect was identified as Jacob Sims, 31, County Road 6920, who had an outstanding felony warrant out of Howell County and was also charged with resisting arrest by fleeing.
Early Feb. 2, a traffic stop was made by an officer in the area of South Hill and Maple streets due to expired plates displayed on a vehicle, said Murrell. It was learned the driver, Jayson McDaniel, 24, Olive Street, had a revoked driver’s license.
The officer also knew of pending charges against McDaniel for possession of controlled substances and drug paraphernalia and requested K9 Loki’s presence. Loki performed a “free air sniff” — a sniff of the air outside of the vehicle — and indicted the presence of narcotics, leading to a probable cause search. As a result of the search, Murrell said, several items of drug paraphernalia were seized.
McDaniel was arrested pending drug charges and additionally charged with driving while revoked, failure to display current state license plates, failure to provide proof of financial responsibility and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Loki will be assigned to Stuart until Bradshaw recovers and returns to duty as Loki's handler, Murrell said.