Freez­ing rain causes ac­ci­dents, clo­sures in south­ern Plains

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FACTS & FIGURES - By JIM SALTER

ST. LOUIS — A thick glaze of ice cov­ered roads from Ok­la­homa to souther n Illi­nois on Fri­day amid a win­ter stor m that caused numer­ous wrecks, forced school can­cel­la­tions, grounded flights and prompted dire war nings for peo­ple to stay home.

Win­ter stor ms are typ­i­cally as­so­ci­ated with heavy snow­fall, but the one ham­mer­ing the souther n Plains and Mid­west dumped freez­ing rain, a con­di­tion even harder for road crews to treat. A slick road­way was sus­pected in a fa­tal wreck in Mis­souri, where long stretches of In­ter­state 44 and In­ter­state 55 were ice-cov­ered.

More freez­ing pre­cip­i­ta­tion was ex­pected in parts of the na­tion’s cen­tral cor­ri­dor through­out most of the hol­i­day week­end.

“There’s no mystery to driv­ing on ice,” Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol Sgt. Al Nothum said. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to do. You have to slow your speed down.”

Hun­dreds of schools were closed, in­clud­ing sev- eral col­lege cam­puses. St. Louis closed all city op­er­a­tions as it braced for its worst ice stor m in at least a decade. Sev­eral Mis­souri pris­ons halted visit­ing hours.

The weather at­mos­phere was so tur­bu­lent that thun­der rum­bled as freez­ing rain fell in Jo­plin, Mis­souri.

Sev­eral util­ity com­pa­nies brought in all avail- able crews who were work­ing ex­tended shifts in an­tic­i­pa­tion of heavy ice snap­ping trees and power lines. Scat­tered out­ages were re­ported, in­clud­ing about 2,500 in Spring­field, Mis­souri.

Fore­cast­ers is­sued ice storm warn­ings from the Ok­la­homa and Texas pan­han­dles into souther n Illi­nois, with up to 1 inch of ice ex­pected in some lo­ca­tions. Pre­cip­i­ta­tion is fore­cast to fall in waves to­day and Sun­day.

Res­i­dents were tak­ing the war nings se­ri­ously. Gro­cery stores were sell­ing out of bread, milk and other ne­ces­si­ties, and hard­ware stores were run­ning out of flash­lights, bat­ter­ies and al­ter na­tive en­ergy sources.

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