Storm dumps blan­ket of snow on Mid­west

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OPINION -

A mas­sive win­ter snow­storm that blan­keted sev­eral Mid­west states was a fac­tor in at least five road deaths on Satur­day and forced the grounds crew to scram­ble to clear snow from Ar­row­head Sta­dium in Kansas City ahead of the NFL di­vi­sional play­off game.

The storm moved into Kansas and Ne­braska from the Rock­ies on Fri­day, then east into Mis­souri, Iowa, Illi­nois and In­di­ana, cov­er­ing roads and mak­ing driv­ing dan­ger­ous. Part of In­ter­state 44 near St. Louis was blocked for sev­eral hours Satur­day, and at one point the Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol warned of traf­fic de­lays as long as eight hours.

In In­di­ana, the north­bound lanes of In­ter­state 65 were closed for hours Satur­day after a semitruck jack­knifed along the snow-cov­ered high­way near Lafayette, about 65 miles north­west of In­di­anapo­lis.

The storm be­gan to spread east into the midAt­lantic re­gion, with be­tween 5 and 10 inches of snow ex­pected in the Wash­ing­ton area, in­clud­ing parts of north­ern and cen­tral Mary­land, by Sun­day. Fore­cast­ers said heavy snow could fall in moun­tain ar­eas north of In­ter­state 64, such as Char­lottesville and Staunton, Vir­ginia. Gov. Ralph Northam de­clared a state of emer­gency Satur­day night to help the state of Vir­ginia pre­pare.

Mis­souri had got­ten the worst of the storm by Satur­day, with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice re­port­ing more than a foot of snow Satur­day morn­ing in some places around St. Louis and Jef­fer­son City, and more than 18 inches in Columbia.

In Kansas City, where the Chiefs were host­ing the In­di­anapo­lis Colts on Satur­day, about 8 inches of snow had fallen by early af­ter­noon. The snow had tapered off by the time the game started midafter­noon, but sta­dium crews worked for hours be­fore the game to clear the sta­dium's lot, field and seats in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a full house for the play­off game.

At least five peo­ple were killed in crashes on slick road­ways in Kansas and Mis­souri. They in­cluded a woman and her 14-year-old step­daugh­ter whose car slid into the path of a semi­trailer in Clin­ton, about 80 miles south­east of Kansas City, on Fri­day, the Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol said. An­other woman died when her car slid on U.S. 24 in north­ern Mis­souri and was hit by an on­com­ing SUV.

In Kansas, a 62-yearold man died after his pickup skid­ded on the Kansas Turn­pike and hit a con­crete bar­rier, ac­cord­ing to the pa­trol. An­other crash in­volv­ing two semi­trail­ers in snowy con­di­tions killed a 41-year-old driver from Mex­ico, the pa­trol said.

"We're an­tic­i­pat­ing still more snow through to­day, so we're ask­ing mo­torists to stay home un­til the roads are cleared," said Mis­souri State High­way Pa­trol Sgt. Collin Stos­berg, sta­tioned in sub­ur­ban Kansas City. "If you do have to get out on the road, we're ask­ing you to do three things: Have your cell­phone fully charged, wear your seat belt and slow your speed for the con­di­tions."

Mis­souri troop­ers re­sponded to more than 3,000 calls for help through early Satur­day af­ter­noon, in­clud­ing more than 700 crashes and 1,300 stranded ve­hi­cles. Illi­nois State Po­lice said troop­ers along the Mis­sis­sippi River across from St. Louis have re­sponded to more than 100 crashes dur­ing the storm.

At Lambert In­ter­na­tional Air­port in St. Louis, most flights were can­celed or de­layed.

In cen­tral Mis­souri, of­fi­cials said about 12,000 house­holds and busi­nesses were with­out power in Columbia and the sur­round­ing area at one point.

[AP PHOTO]

Jeff Clif­ford digs his girl­friend’s car out from a pile of snow Satur­day in St. Louis. A win­ter storm swept the re­gion this week­end, snarling traf­fic in sev­eral states and leav­ing thou­sands with­out power.

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