Freezing rain leaves one dead, thousands without power

More ice is predicted in the next few days, as MoDOT works to clear roads.
Monday, December 10, 2007 | 10:15 a.m. CST; updated 4:31 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Freezing rain across much of central and southern Missouri caused power outages to more than 100,000 customers Monday as icy roads were blamed for at least one death.

More ice was in the forecast for Monday night and into Tuesday for parts of the state, including areas that were hard hit by a three-day ice storm in January.

Gov. Matt Blunt declared a state of emergency Sunday and activated state emergency operations and the Missouri National Guard to aid communities affected by a storm. No communities had called for help as of midday Monday.

Tree limbs and power lines were downed by ice up to an inch thick in areas from around Joplin through central Missouri to west of St. Louis.

“There are trees and power lines down all over the county,” said Rich Nordell from the combined Jasper County and Joplin emergency management office.

Daytime temperatures fluctuated on either side of the freezing mark, making it hard to predict where roads and bridges might be icy.

Smaller roads and side streets were most at risk, while Missouri Department of Transportation crews worked to keep major highways clear with melting chemicals and gravel.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a motorist was killed Sunday evening after he got out of his vehicle to check on a previous accident on U.S. 63 north of Jefferson City and was struck by another vehicle that skidded on an ice-covered bridge. The patrol on Monday identified the deceased man as Neilson Rudd, 22, of the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood.

The widespread power outages in mid-Missouri also affected the highway patrol headquarters, which momentarily lost all power Monday when a backup generator went down.

Patrol spokesman Capt. Tim Hull said thawing and re-freezing ice on overpasses and curves posed the greatest hazard Monday.

Although most roads were clear across Missouri, “things could go down hill real quickly as far as those road conditions go,” Hull said. “The temperature is hovering right there around that freezing point, which makes it really treacherous.”

The brunt of Monday’s power outages was felt in southwest and central Missouri, according to Susie Stonner, spokeswoman for the State Emergency Management Center.

Empire District Electric in southwest Missouri said 46,600 customers were without power, including 39,000 in the Joplin area and nearby Webb City.

St. Louis-based AmerenUE reported 30,000 without power, including 20,000 in the Jefferson City and Eldon areas.

Electric co-ops reported another 27,000 customers without power scattered around the state.

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