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Schools close ahead of bitter cold, strong winds


More than a dozen area school districts and Head Start programs canceled classes Friday ahead of a forecast that includes strong winds, a sharp temperature drop and the possibility of snow.

The National Weather Service in Springfield began receiving multiple reports of freezing rain shortly before 9 a.m. in Greene County; flash freezing, which occurs when wet roads freeze due to rapidly falling temperatures, was expected to begin between 6 a.m. and noon throughout the NWS coverage area, including West Plains. As of 9:20 a.m., the air temperature in West Plains continued to hover around 45 degrees, but by 10 a.m., it had dropped to 39. Forecasters expect the temperature to continue falling until about 5 p.m., when it is expected to be around 22 degrees.

The chance of snow is expected to remain low in the West Plains area, with the highest probability of it falling between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for southwestern Missouri, including Ozark, Douglas, Wright and Texas counties, largely due to the rapid temperature drop and wet roads freezing, expected wind gusts up to 45 mph and wind chills near zero and the possibility of light snow accumulations. Parts of Shannon, Texas and Wright County could see under an inch of snow, according to the latest NWS project published at about 4:30 a.m. Friday.

Howell and all surrounding counties are under a wind advisory until midnight Friday, as winds are expected to gust from the northwest up to 40 to 45 mph in most areas, causing snow to blow around, reducing visibility, and causing cold wind chills. In West Plains, wind gusts could reach 45 to 50 mph, the NWS forecasts.

In West Plains, minimum wind chills are expected to be around 0 to 10 degrees Friday and Friday night, a little warmer Saturday during the day at between 10 to 20 degrees, but falling Saturday night to 10 to 20 degrees below zero. Sunday’s minimum wind chills are expected to be between zero to 10 degrees, but wind chill temps are expected remain in the negative teens from Sunday night through Tuesday.

Looking toward the late weekend, meteorologists report increasing confidence in the possibility of snow accumulation Sunday. Certainty is low as to where exactly the snow will fall, or how much, but as of 4:30 a.m. Friday, the probability of travel impacts — at least to a minor degree — is heaviest along the Missouri/Arkansas border, and significant across the lower third of the state.


Ava School District and Head Start, Bakersfield School District and Head Start, Cabool School District and Head Start, Dora School District, Houston School District, Licking School District, Lutie School District, Mtn. Grove School District and Head Start, Mtn. View-Birch Tree School District, Norwood School District, Plainview School District, Skyline R-2 School District, Thornfield School, West Plains School District and Willow Springs School District, all closed Friday.

Norwood is implementing its second day of alternative methods of instruction for the school year, Cabool and Bakersfield their first, and Lutie is implementing its third.

West Plains School District has announced several activity cancellations. A boys basketball game scheduled for Friday versus Forsyth at the West Plains Civic Center has been postponed for the weather and will be rescheduled at a later time, said West Plains Schools Activities Director Dr. Ashley Cooley. Midwinter events that were to happen this weekend will be rescheduled to coincide with the Jan. 19 basketball game against Branson, also at the civic center. The game starts at 4:30 p.m. 

The Midwinter Dance that was planned for Saturday will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 20 in the high school cafeteria.

District Band activities in Nixa and the wrestling meet in Nixa, both scheduled for Saturday, have been canceled, as has the Girls Swim Meet at the West Plains Civic Center, also scheduled for Saturday, Cooley added.