Ice leads to power outages, but few other problems

Pictured is an ice-covered bird feeder on the property of Susan Harbaugh near Red Bud. (submitted photo)

While it made for spectacular winter scenery, an ice storm predicted for the region fortunately failed to rear its ugly head.

An icy freeze out shut down most activities throughout the St. Louis area on Friday, but the remainder of an anticipated weekend-long winter storm was reduced to very cold rain.

Schools, government offices and businesses were closed across the region Friday as a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and ice arrived in the morning.

No problems were reported in Monroe County until late Friday night into Saturday morning. Power outages occurred in portions of Waterloo for a couple of hours Friday evening before electricity was restored, and again for some homes very briefly Saturday morning.

Waterloo public works director Tim Birk said the power went out on the east side of town shortly before 10 p.m. Friday evening and was restored in less than two hours.

“Tree limbs in the line caused the problem,” Birk said.

Another outage occurred on Saturday morning in the area of Hoener Street due to arcing lines on a pine tree. This outage was restored in a very short amount of time.

Liz Sawyer LeSaulnier submitted this photo of an icy cardinal lawn decoration on her property.

“Kudos to the electric department for the fast response to icy limbs on electric lines cutting power last night,” Waterloo alderman Clyde Heller posted Saturday on Facebook. “Power (was) on within two hours of reporting. Great job everyone!”

A widespread outage was reported Saturday morning in Maeystown. The Monroe County Emergency Management Agency said electricity was restored to most homes in the village by around noon.

“Ameren is replacing some damaged lines, so some people might experience brief outages due to that,” Monroe County EMA Director Ryan Weber said Saturday.

There were also a few reports of ice-covered trees falling on roadways in the county, most notably on Route 156 near old Valmeyer on Saturday morning. That portion of roadway was reopened on Saturday afternoon.

The National Weather Service said icy precipitation had tapered off for much of the region by Saturday morning, and temperatures reached 35 degrees in the afternoon.

Another round of freezing rain was predicted for early Sunday morning, but the precipitation that arrived locally came in the form of rain.

Salt trucks pre-treated local roads late Thursday and school districts made the decision Thursday evening to cancel classes and sporting events, taking heed of a severe winter weather advisory issued earlier this week by the National Weather Service. The Monroe County Courthouse closed for the day at about noon on Friday.

Rebecca Simshauser submitted this photo of an icy birdhouse on her property.

Illinois Department of Transportation District 8 said it had dispatched approximately 200 snow plows and 11 brine units active throughout the district as of 7 a.m. Friday, focusing first on the southern counties and working north.

Illinois State Police reported Friday afternoon crashes on I-255 at Camp Jackson Road and Illinois Route 13-15 – both minor – and praised IDOT for keeping the roads safe.

Waterloo city crews started about 6 a.m. Friday, public works director Tim Birk said, using a mix of salt and chemicals to combat the ice.

In all, Birk said Waterloo’s street department salted the entire city three times through noon on Saturday.

The total amount of salt used was 230 tons.

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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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