Weather forecasters are predicting a severe winter weather event for southwest Missouri, which could find Barry and Lawrence county residents scrambling for supplies to prepare for the possibility of having to hunker down for the duration.
"The likelihood of a winter storm bringing some sleet and significant snow accumulations seems fairly certain," said Barry County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director David Compton.
When Compton issued the press release yesterday, he said the track and intensity of the storm remained somewhat varied, it appeared as though Barry County should prepare for the possibility of a significant winter storm.
According to Compton, southern parts of Barry County extending down to the Missouri/Arkansas state line, is expected to receive nine inches of precipitation. Northern Barry County is predicted to receive five to seven inches of snow. Ice accumulations and isolated power outages are also possible.
All area residents are encouraged to take proper steps to prepare for the possibility of a winter storm. The winter storm is expected to hit the area by 6 p.m. today and continue through 6 a.m. tomorrow morning, with accumulations of up to one inch per hour overnight.
Due to expected hazardous road conditions, tomorrow morning commutes will be significantly impacted and all non-essential personnel are encouraged not to travel.
Wind chill values following the storm will range from minus five degrees to five degrees Farenheit, thus adding the potential for frostbite to people who work outside.
"Area residents should either already have or plan to prepare an 72-hour emergency disaster kit, which includes food, water, medical supplies and pet supplies in the event this severe weather event does come to pass," said Compton. "Most residents will need to be prepared to shelter in place in the event of power outages or other interruptions in services during this event."
Supplies for a 72-hour kit include enough water to supply each person in the household with a minimum of one gallon per day; a supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food items and a non-electric can opener; battery-powered flashlights and radios; and an alternate heat source.
Caution should be used when using kerosene heaters as an alternative heat source. Kerosene heaters can become deadly if homeowners do not follow manufacturer's instructions for this alternative heat source.
|"Area residents who choose to use kerosene heaters in the event of a power outage should properly follow the manufacturer's instructions and make sure that the unit is operated in a well-vented area," said Compton.|
To ensure an adequate flow of fresh air if using an alternate heat source, Compton recommended leaving a door to the rest of the house open or keeping an outside window open.
Compton also cautioned against refueling a heater inside the home.
"Fill the tank outdoors, away from combustible materials and only after the heater has been turned off and allowed to cool," said Compton.
In addition, Compton noted individuals should never attempt to move a lighted kerosene heater because the carrying handle could cause burns.
To avoid the risk of fire, heaters should be placed several feet away from furniture, curtains, paper, clothes, bedding and other combustible materials. Additionally, infants, small children and pets should be kept away from heaters to avoid serious burns.
Compton also noted extra caution should be used while operating generators during severe weather conditions.
|"Area residents should never use a generator indoors, garages, basements, crawlspaces and sheds, even with ventilation," said Compton.||Exhaust fumes contain extremely high levels of carbon monoxide which can become deadly if inhaled.|
"Individuals who are running low on food, medicines or other supplies should stock them before the storm arrives as travel may be restricted due to road conditions, downed power lines or trees.
"As we have seen in prior severe winter events, many area residents have been limited to their homes because of hazardous weather and road conditions. It might take up to three days or more before road and utility crews can access impacted areas and restore services," added Compton.
The Barry County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will remain on stand-by status as officials continue to closely monitor the developing situation.