Wintry weather in Missouri leads to school closings, traffic accidents

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 | 5:02 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — Wintry weather was causing headaches around Missouri again on Tuesday, a day after a mix of ice, sleet and snow caused numerous accidents, including two that were fatal.

Snow fell Tuesday morning from one side of the state to the other, though accumulation was generally minimal. In St. Louis, the snow was light. But because it fell on roadways still slick from Monday's icy mix, several fender-benders were reported, and the morning commute was at a standstill around the region. Several schools called off classes for the second straight day.

"I give up," one flustered man said as he escaped the morning drive to work and ducked into a St. Louis Bread Co. "I wasn't going anywhere. Why fight it?"

In Kansas City, roads were snow-packed and slick after snow fell in the early morning. More than 100 school districts called off classes. Dozens of accidents were reported in the region.

A rollover crash on Interstate 435 and accidents on Interstate 470 slowed the morning commute. Police Capt. Rich Lockhart called it a "typical slow-going day" that occurs when snow hits.

The weather was more than a nuisance for many. Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull said the slippery roads caused several accidents from northwest Missouri through the Bootheel. Many serious injuries were reported. Two people were killed in wrecks Monday afternoon.

"A lot of slide-offs and a lot of minor accidents, but a couple of fatalities, too, unfortunately," Hull said. "It always seems people forget how to drive on snow and ice."

On U.S. 67 near Poplar Bluff, 40-year-old Marcelaine Falk of Doniphan died when she lost control of her car on the ice, crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on, the patrol said. The accident left four others with moderate to serious injuries.

In New Madrid County, 51-year-old Willie Love of Cairo, Ill., died when he lost control of his vehicle on the ice, crossed a median on U.S. 60 and struck an oncoming car.

Three young people were also found dead in an overturned car in Clay County near Kansas City, but it wasn't clear when that wreck occurred or how it happened. The mother of one of the victims had reported him missing on Saturday, before the arrival of the bad weather.

Gov. Matt Blunt, recalling severe winter storms that paralyzed parts of the state in December 2007 and February, urged Missourians to protect their homes, be ready with extra food and have an alternative heating source such as a portable generator. He also suggested that people keep a blanket, spare radio with batteries, quick-energy food, jumper cables, flares, a shovel and sand or shingles for tire traction in their car.

Forecasters are calling for a bit of a reprieve on Wednesday, but rain and freezing rain are possible on Thursday. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 40s and even 50s on Friday and Saturday before another cold front arrives on Sunday.

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