ST. LOUIS (AP) — Plows and salt trucks struggled to cope with the sheer volume of snow Thursday as a band of bitterly cold weather spread across Missouri, forcing more than 1,000 schools to close, causing hundreds of traffic accidents and leaving more than a foot of snow in some areas.
Making matters worse, forecasters predicted overnight lows of below-zero in some parts of the state.
Snowfall amounts varied greatly, from little more than a trace in parts of southern Missouri to huge amounts in mid-Missouri and parts of the St. Louis area. Snowfall totals of nearly 11 inches were reported in north St. Louis County, parts of St. Charles County had 10 inches and there were reports of up to 15 inches in the northern part of the metro area.
“It was a very narrow band centered directly over Interstate 70,” said Jim Sieveking, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in suburban St. Louis.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported hundreds of trouble calls — more than 300 in the St. Louis region alone — by Thursday morning, but no serious injuries were reported.
“Nothing really serious — just slide-offs and small accidents,” Cpl. Jeff Wilson said.
In St. Louis, police closed an Interstate 64 ramp at Kingshighway on Thursday after more than 20 cars got stuck on the slick, hilly ramp near Barnes-Jewish Hospital. A tractor-trailer jack-knifed on Interstate 270 and small sections of Interstates 64 and 70 were so slick that they had to be closed, causing lengthy delays for morning commuters.
Near Rolla, a semi overturned on Interstate 44.
Sally Oxenhandler of the Missouri Department of Transportation said the duration of the storm was making it hard for plows and salt trucks to keep up.
“Virtually the entire state is covered in snow,” Oxenhandler said. “We’re working to try to get highways cleared as best we can.”
St. Louis saw 9.6 inches of snow, its highest snowfall total since March 4, 2008, when 10 inches blanketed the city. National Weather Service records show the biggest snow ever in St. Louis was 20.4 inches March 30-31, 1890.
Kansas City and northwest Missouri had 5 to 8 inches of snow, Columbia had 9 inches and Jefferson City 8 inches. Meanwhile, areas further north and south had less — Hannibal, 100 miles north of St. Louis, and Cape Girardeau, 100 miles south, each had about 3 inches.
In Columbia, University of Missouri student James Hatler trudged through the snow on the way to campus, buttoned up against the bitter cold.
“It’s wet and cold, but hell no, it won’t stop me,” Hatler said. “I’m not going to let this stuff win.”
Temperatures were generally in the teens and 20s during the day, but forecasters were expecting most of the state to be in single digits — or worse — overnight. The forecast for Kirksville in northeast Missouri was for an overnight low of minus-10.
And more snow is likely on the way. The National Weather Service said a dusting of snow could arrive Friday, perhaps an inch and another storm Sunday night and Monday could bring up to 4 more inches.
Copyright Associated Press