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Winter weather causes travel woes in Missouri

Thursday, January 2, 2014 | 4:53 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — It wasn't a lot, but the dusty, blowing snow that blanketed parts of Missouri on Thursday caused plenty of grief on the roadways.

Making matters worse was the cold, and experts warn it will get even colder by the start of next week.

Snow began falling Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning, coating the ground with 2- to 5-inches. The fine, powdery snow was almost dry to the touch, and winds of up to 20 mph were whipping it back onto the same roads that crews had cleared. The combination of snow, temperatures in the single digits and teens, and the wind made for treacherous driving.

"Anything below 25 degrees and the salt isn't nearly as effective," said Becky Allmeroth, maintenance engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation's St. Louis district, where crews were mixing chemicals and beet juice with salt to try and make roads passable. "Since the snow blows so easily and the temperatures are so cold, once it hits the roadway it freezes when it hits the surface."

Several accidents were reported. A semi jack-knifed on Interstate 44 near Six Flags St. Louis during the Thursday morning rush hour, shutting down eastbound lanes. Meanwhile, the ramp off of Interstate 64 at Kingshighway in the city was so icy that police had to shut it down for a time, leaving a long line of commuters waiting in the exit lane.

Several slide-offs occurred, but Capt. Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said there were no reports of fatalities.

Lambert Airport in St. Louis reported a few cancellations and delays, but most flights were arriving and departing on time.

Another round of snow is possible Saturday, but should amount to just an inch or two, said Doug Tilly, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in suburban St. Louis. A bigger concern, Tilly said, was the cold.

Missouri will see a gradual warm-up into the 40s in many places by Saturday. Then the bottom drops out. Sunday's high will range from the mid-teens to around 30 degrees.

It gets worse. Most places won't get out of single digits for highs on Monday. Northeast Missouri towns such as Hannibal and Kirksville probably won't reach above zero, Tilly said, with lows Monday night or Tuesday morning perhaps dipping to minus-10 degrees. It will be only slightly warmer in St. Louis, with a projected Monday night low of minus-5 degrees — the coldest reading in St. Louis in 15 years.

Tilly said things should start to return to normal by the middle of next week, with highs in the mid-30s.


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