Snowstorm causes airport delays and interstate closings in St. Louis

Friday, February 1, 2008 | 1:21 p.m. CST; updated 5:50 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

ST. LOUIS — The second winter storm of the season brought 8 inches of snow to the St. Louis area on Friday, snarling traffic, causing flight delays and cancellations and shutting down most schools.

Temperatures are expected to climb above freezing starting Saturday, and the snow could be gone by early next week.

The same storm that dumped 5 inches of snow on the Springfield area on Thursday grew even more intense as it traveled east. Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recorded 8.4 inches of snow. Shortly after midnight, at the height of the storm, the airport was closed for two hours.

It was open again by mid-morning, but about 40 flights were delayed or canceled. Airport spokesman Jeff Lea encouraged travelers to call ahead to check on their flights.

“Nobody wants to sit at the airport for five or six hours,” he said.

St. Louis can sometimes go a whole winter without significant snowfall. This winter, the region has been hit hard twice. A Dec. 15 storm produced about 7 inches of snow.

Interstate traffic moved — albeit slowly — for the Friday morning commute. Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Jeff Briggs said that more than 2,000 employees and an equal number of equipment pieces were out on the state’s roads trying to make things clear.

“It can be tough,” Briggs said. “There was a place or two in the state where it got to whiteout conditions because of snowing and blowing. But in most places, we were able to keep up with it.”

Most schools in the St. Louis area called off classes. Some eastern Missouri colleges and universities, including the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau, shut down for the day.

Dozens of accidents were reported around the state. Several wrecks involving up to 20 vehicles combined occurred on Interstate 64 in St. Charles County shortly after the first wave of snow hit the region Thursday. The interstate was closed for about two hours. And Friday morning, a semitrailer flipped over on Interstate 270.

Snowfall totals varied from the storm that arrived in southwest Missouri on Thursday. Springfield received about 5 inches; Hannibal in northeast Missouri got 4; the eastern Missouri town of Farmington had 6 inches; and Cape Girardeau in southeast Missouri and Columbia in the middle of the state got about 2 inches each.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Carney said no additional snow was expected. High temperatures in St. Louis were expected to reach about 40 degrees over the weekend and get into the 50s on Monday.

“We’ve got 8 inches on the ground. That’s quite a lot of snow to get rid of,” Carney said. “But probably by Monday, it’s really going to eat away at it.”

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