ST. LOUIS (KMOX) updated 10:15 a.m.– Freezing rain and drizzle is falling in the KMOX listening area and residents are bracing for what the Missouri Department of Transportation could be the biggest ice storm in 10 years to hit the St. Louis area.
Related story: MoDOT, Highway Patrol Thanks Those Who Stayed Home, Worst Still to Come
The south-bound lanes of Interstate-55 in South County were shut down for about an hour, due to an injury accident, Friday morning.
Dean DeVore, AccuWeather[/caption]KMOX AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore’s latest weather update is a warning that ice in St. Louis area will only get worse throughout Friday. He says the heaviest of freezing rain will hit St. Louis in the afternoon and evening, which could cause up to a .5 inch of ice accumulation on untreated roads, power lines and tree limbs.
St. Louis-Lambert International Airport is reporting some flight in and out of St. Louis being cancelled. A majority of those from Southwest, and Cape Air. Make sure to check flystl.com before heading to the airport.
Hundreds of local schools closed in anticipation of Friday’s weather and area businesses and government offices are closing their doors as well.
Scattered rain is turning to a glazing of ice on the ground in the Festus and Sullivan, Missouri. MoDOT says the chemical treatment on the roads in that area is keeping the highways from being completely covered in ice. But, District Maintenance Engineer Mark Croarkin says that could change in a hurry.
“When it rains the pavement temperatures drop almost instantly. It’s not like snow coming in and there’s a little insulation. It’s really cold rain. You’re pretty well seeing where the rain comes down with the temperature below freezing.”
IDOT’s Joe Monroe says that as of 7:00 a.m. freezing drizzle was falling from Route 15 south. “Right now we’re fortunate,” he says, “the chemical that we had down in advance and what we’re putting down right down is keeping in at bay. But, I don’t want to be overly optimistic, it would only take a little more intense shower to knock our chemical off.”
DeVore says we can expect to see the freezing rain to hit the St. Louis metro-area between 8am and 10am and freezing rain will continue throughout the day Friday.
MoDOT says pavement temperatures in the metro were hovering around the freezing mark, Friday morning and road crews are switching from their brine treatments to salt. Crews are working from south to north in Missouri as the storm moves through the area.
Concern about the storm prompted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to activate the state Emergency Operations Center in Jefferson City. Greitens told reporters at the center Thursday that he called a state of emergency and said the Missouri Transportation Department had started pretreating roads and would continue to do so throughout the storm.
“We’re going to be prepared for whatever the storm brings,” Greitens said.
The new governor asked people in the storm’s path to stay off roads Friday, both for safety and to allow emergency responders to work. More than 3,500 responders started working 12-hour shifts, and the state’s Public Safety Department preemptively placed generators across the state for use in areas hit the hardest, he said.
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