Colos­sal storm dumps up to a foot of snow, and more is on the way

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY LEXI CORTES AND MIKE KOZI­ATEK

[email protected] mkozi­[email protected]

Res­i­dents across Illi­nois and Mis­souri woke up Satur­day to any­where from a few inches of snow to more than a foot in the big­gest win­ter storm to hit the re­gion in years, and they can ex­pect to see some freez­ing rain pos­si­bly mixed with snow on Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice.

Freez­ing rain could cre­ate a glaze of ice in some lo­ca­tions on Sun­day. The Na­tional Weather Ser­vice fore­cast calls for a 60 per­cent chance of freez­ing rain and snow on Sun­day with an ad­di­tional snow ac­cu­mu­la­tion of less than an inch.

Belleville and Steeleville had 8 inches of snow by Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice St. Louis of­fice. Parts of O’Fal­lon saw 9 inches of snow. In Mis­souri, Columbia got 14.5 inches.

FAM­ILY FUN

Many metro-east fam­i­lies were look­ing for­ward to the snow. Once streets were cleared, peo­ple got out to drive, go sled­ding or shovel drive­ways.

Fred­die Novosel had friends and strangers, who know him only as the Snow Man, stop by his Collinsville home to find out what he would build out of snow this time.

Novosel said he’s sculpted Collinsville’s land­mark Cat­sup Bot­tle, Win­nie the Pooh and Gene Sim­mons of Kiss, which was fea­tured on CNN at the time. This year, he spent Satur­day af­ter­noon build­ing a baby shark, based on the hit chil­dren’s song and dance.

“If I can make some­body smile, it’s worth it,” Novosel said.

De­spite a steady rain Satur­day af­ter­noon, fam­i­lies filled East End Park in Belleville to hit the sled­ding slopes and roll the wet, pack­able snow into gi­ant balls.

Made­lyn Peters, 3, of Belleville and her brother, Colton, 8, were slid­ing off a gi­ant snow­ball that some­one built be­fore they ar­rived.

Made­lyn called the snow “pretty.” And Colton added,

“It’s big­ger than life.”

They were in the park with their par­ents, Mickey and De­siree Peters.

Alex Bur­niski of Belleville went to the park with her 9month-old daugh­ter, Claire Pritchard, and her son, Jack Pritchard.

Jack summed up their day in the park as “good.”

“We had a lot of fun,” Bur­niski said. “It’s re­ally good sled­ding snow. The rain is kind of what’s

TRAF­FIC JAMS

Rock­wood Su­per­in­ten­dent Eric Knost tweeted from his car. Around 3 a.m., he said in a tweet that he was fi­nally in his drive­way after leav­ing his of­fice at 3:20 p.m.

The Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol said more than 175 crashes had been re­ported be­tween Fri­day and late Satur­day morn­ing.

In a Satur­day morn­ing news con­fer­ence, Mis­souri Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion of­fi­cial Bob Becker said the in­ten­sity of the storm made their job dif­fi­cult.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble for us to keep up,” he said.

Becker, who is a dis­trict main­te­nance en­gi­neer, said aban­doned ve­hi­cles were in the way for road crews Satur­day.

It’s been al­most six years since the metro-east and St. Louis saw 1 foot of snow. Patrick Walsh, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice St. Louis of­fice, said 12.4 inches of snow was recorded at St. Louis Lambert In­ter­na­tional Air­port on March 24, 2013.

On Fri­day night, com­muters were backed up for hours in many places. Traf­fic was at a stand­still on Green Mount head­ing south from Shiloh be­cause many cars couldn’t make it up the hill ap­proach­ing Shiloh Road/Le­banon Av­enue. Cars stalled in many spots and re­duced traf­fic to one lane or closed roads al­to­gether. Cars were slid­ing into the con­crete me­dian in Alor- ton at the bot­tom of the hill on Illi­nois 15.

The last time a two-day storm like this one brought more than 9 inches of snow was Jan. 5-6, 2014, ac­cord­ing to Walsh.

The mega storm sent many to stock up on gro­ceries Thurs­day and Fri­day in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the storm.

Illi­nois Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion crews pre­treated roads and bridges at risk of ic­ing, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from Fri­day morn­ing. IDOT stated that plow­ing op­er­a­tions were likely to con­tinue through the week­end.

The big­gest snow­storm of the cold weather sea­son so far af­fected an area from east­ern Kansas to Mis­souri, the cen­tral and south­ern parts of Illi­nois, In­di­ana and Ohio and north­ern Ken­tucky. A gen­eral 3-6 inches of snow is fore­cast with lo­cal amounts near­ing 1 foot in parts of cen­tral Mis­souri and cen­tral and south­ern Illi­nois. cially along Illi­nois 15 in Belleville and Green Mount Road be­tween Shiloh and Belleville.

One of the wrecks re­sulted in a fa­tal­ity. The crash hap­pened around 5 p.m. Fri­day at U.S. 40 and Lake Road in Madi­son County, ac­cord­ing to Sny­der. Illi­nois State Po­lice Cap­tain Tim Tyler said Fri­day night that a car trav­el­ing east­bound lost con­trol and struck a west­bound driver. The east­bound driver wasn’t wear­ing a seat belt. He was iden­ti­fied Satur­day as Allen Reinacher, 73, of Troy.

Sny­der said the other overnight calls in­cluded traf­fic stops, aban­doned ve­hi­cles and cars that were stuck or off the road.

The fact that the bulk of the snow fell overnight and into Satur­day morn­ing helped in that many stayed off the roads un­til they were cleared. In O’Fal­lon, Belleville, Collinsville and else­where, streets were just wet or slushy but pass­able after a plow had come through.

Schools closed early on Fri­day in hopes of get­ting stu­dents home safe and buses off the roads. In Eureka, Mis­souri, the Rock­wood school dis­trict dis­missed stu­dents three hours early. Then, the su­per­in­ten­dent got stuck on the snow-cov­ered high­way. driv­ing us home.”

Amanda Richard­son was cheer­ing on her kids slip­pin’ and slidin’ down a steep hill. She was with Xavier, 14, Do­minick, 9, Xan­der, 8, and Max­ton, 4.

On one trip, Max­ton went down head­first with­out a sled or tube.

“We’ve had a blast to­day,” Richard­son said. “We’re not a fan of the rain but we have to take ad­van­tage of it while we can.”

The win­ter storm, which be­gan about noon Fri­day in St. Louis and quickly moved east, dumped heavy snow on the re­gion just be­fore the evening com­mute. As a re­sult, thou­sands of driv­ers were stranded on snow-clogged road­ways for hours as traf­fic ground to a halt.

Many road­ways, in­clud­ing in­ter­state high­ways in Mis­souri, were closed, and some peo­ple aban­doned their cars. Driv­ers re­ported tak­ing three or more hours to reach their des­ti­na­tions.

Since the snow started fall­ing Fri­day, Illi­nois

State Po­lice had been called to 246 in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing 103 car crashes, Master Sgt. Jeff Sny­der said Satur­day morn­ing. Many cars had veered off the roads and into ditches in the metro-east, espe-

STAY HOME

IDOT, Illi­nois State Po­lice and lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies sug­gested peo­ple avoid trav­el­ing in the storm. For some, there was no choice.

By Fri­day night, 92 flights at St. Louis Lambert In­ter­na­tional Air­port had been can­celed, ac­cord­ing to the air­port’s blog. As of 5 a.m. Satur­day, 74 flights were can­celed be­cause of the storm. It stated that more can­cel­la­tions were likely.

Scott Air Force Base was op­er­at­ing un­der mis­sionessen­tial only sta­tus from 2 p.m. Fri­day through Satur­day.

South­west­ern Illi­nois Col­lege can­celed classes for Satur­day, when the spring se­mes­ter was sched­uled to be­gin.

STAY WARM

Warm­ing cen­ters will be avail­able to those who need them through Satur­day, ac­cord­ing to the St. Clair County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency. They aren’t open Sun­day, but will be avail­able again on Mon­day. They in­clude:

Belleville Pub­lic Li

A brary, S. Jack­son and E. Wash­ing­ton streets in Belleville.

West Branch Pub­lic

A Li­brary, 3414 W. Main St. in Belleville.

Ca­hokia Pub­lic Li

A brary, 140 Ca­hokia Park Drive in Ca­hokia.

East St. Louis Pub­lic

A Li­brary, 5300 State St. in East St. Louis.

The Sal­va­tion Army,

A 616 N. 16th St. in East St. Louis.

Fairview Heights Pub

A lic Li­brary, 10017 Bunkum Road in Fairview Heights.

Le­banon Pub­lic Li

A brary, 314 W. St. Louis St. in Le­banon.

O’Fal­lon Pub­lic Li

A brary, 120 Civic Plaza in O’Fal­lon.

A Collinsville street depart­ment truck was out on the roads Satur­day after a win­ter storm hit Illi­nois and Mis­souri.LEXI CORTES [email protected]

LEXI CORTES [email protected] Snow cov­ers tree branches in Collinsville. It’s been al­most six years since the metro-east and St. Louis saw 1 foot of snow.

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