TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens thanked the state’s residents for heeding warnings to stay off roads during an ice storm but warned that the danger will last in parts of the state through Sunday.
In a news conference late Friday afternoon, leaders of several state departments said efforts to react to ice that started in the state early Friday had been helped by fewer drivers on the roads.
The Missouri Highway Patrol reports it responded to about 100 crashes Friday, with only one fatality related to the storm. Power outages were small and scattered across the state.
National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Runnels says up to a half-inch of ice stretched from Joplin into St. Louis with “minimal impact.” But he said freezing rain will increase late Friday and early Saturday in west-central Missouri, and hit Kansas City and northern Missouri Saturday night.
Freezing rain is causing numerous accidents in Missouri, including one fatal wreck.
Missouri State Highway Patrol spokesman Al Nothum says a sport utility vehicle veered off of Interstate 55 near Festus, south of St. Louis, on Friday morning. The SUV struck a tree, killing the driver. No other information has been released, but Nothum says a slick roadway is the suspected cause.
Nothum says several accidents have been reported as a result of freezing rain that began falling in southern Missouri early Friday. The rain later moved into St. Louis, where more than 100 flights were cancelled at Lambert Airport because of ice.
Forecasters are predicting the worst ice storm in at least a decade in St. Louis, with a half-inch or more of accumulation.
Freezing rain also moved into Oklahoma and Kansas early Friday, with forecasters warning of ice accumulations across the region. Icy weather also is expected in parts of Illinois, Texas and Arkansas.
An approaching ice storm is already causing trouble for St. Louis air passengers.
Lambert Airport reported that dozens of incoming and outbound flights were canceled Friday as freezing rain made its way to the St. Louis area.
Freezing rain was already falling Friday morning in much of the southern parts of the state, with portions of Interstate 44 becoming slick.
Forecasters are predicting a half-inch of ice or more over parts over Missouri through the weekend. Would-be travelers are being warned to stay home if possible.
Hundreds of schools are closed across the state, including several college campuses. Gov. Eric Greitens has declared a state of emergency.
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