ST. LOUIS, Missouri – A massive winter snowstorm making its way across the Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic region dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of Missouri and contributed to at least five deaths, authorities said Saturday.
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.
The storm was expected to spread east into the Mid-Atlantic region, where Virginia and Washington, D.C., could see several inches of snow, the National Weather Service said.
Missouri had gotten the worst of the storm by Saturday, with the National Weather Service reporting more than a foot (30.48 centimeters) of snow Saturday morning in some places around St. Louis and Jefferson City, and more than 18 inches (45 centimeters) in Columbia.
At least six people were killed on slick roadways. They included a woman and her 14-year-old stepdaughter whose car slid into the path of a semitrailer in Clinton, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) 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-year-old man died after his pickup truck 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. 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.