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Arctic blast forces temperature below zero

File photo

Just ahead of Santa Claus — if you believe in him — a winter blast of cold air came out of the north and forced the mercury below zero degrees Fahrenheit. The cold front dropped about 2 inches of snow and strong winds blew those snowflakes around, making driving hazardous and forming some deep drifts Thursday night.

Meteorologists and weather forecasters had been warning about the coming cold front for days.

On Wednesday, Gov. Mike Parson alerted approximately 500 members of the Missouri National Guard to be prepared to place personnel and equipment around the state to support the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other interagency partners.

The VA announced on Wednesday that John J. Pershing facilities, including Poplar Bluff’s main campus and Cripple Creek location, plus Sikeston and Cape Girardeau would close at noon on Thursday. With bitter cold temperatures expected, all administrative areas and outpatient operations at all John J. Pershing locations saw a delayed opening at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Just before noon on Thursday, Cape Girardeau County announced all Cape Girardeau County government offices and the Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court would close at noon due to inclement weather. The county offices remained closed on Friday.

Rain started falling about noon Thursday and as temperatures fell, the rain switched over to snow within a half hour.

Snow continued to fall throughout the afternoon and evening as temperatures dropped to the single digits below zero and strong winds made it feel much colder.

The sun shone brightly in a blue sky over a snow-covered landscape Friday morning as residents awoke. But the mercury remained below zero as those workers who went to work Friday traveled on snow-covered roads. It was too cold for salt or other chemicals to be effective in melting the snow.

About 1,300 residents on the west and north sides of Cape Girardeau lost power during that bitterly cold night as Ameren Missouri experienced a transformer fire in a substation.

At 1:35 Friday morning, Cape Girardeau firefighters were dispatched to the Ameren UE substation at the intersection of North Silver Springs Road and Independence Street.

The fire was contained at 3:09 a.m., allowing Ameren UE personnel to assess the damage and begin repairs.

During this same time frame, a power line near Mount Auburn Road was also reported down. Repairs of this line and the substation were expected to take at least four hours. It took almost twice that long. Power was restored about 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

With temperatures below zero Friday morning, the City of Cape Girardeau opened Osage Centre at 6 a.m. to provide an area of refuge for affected residents to shelter until the power was restored.

Temperatures are forecast to rise back to normal this week.

Gregory Dullum has worked for The Cash-Book Journal for more than 25 years. Prior to becoming the editor in May 2017, he was production manager, circulation manager and reporter. Before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1988, he was editor of the Saint Louis Park Sailor, a weekly community newspaper in suburban Minneapolis, MN. A native of Minnesota, he returned there after graduating with distinction in 1978 from Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA, with a degree in mass communications. His wife, Marie, whom he met in college, is a native of Zalma, a small town in southeast Missouri. They have two grown daughters and five grandchildren. Gregory may be reached at cashbook@mvp.net.

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