The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 5, 2014

Dangerous weather conditions reported around Missouri

ST. LOUIS — Heavy snow combined with strong winds and bitter cold created a dangerous winter mix today over much of Missouri, prompting everything from churches to tourist attractions and even the St. Louis region’s sole ski resort to shut down amid warnings that only those who absolutely need to venture out should do so.

Snow that began in parts of the state Saturday night picked up intensity after dawn Sunday, and several inches of snow were on the ground by midmorning.

The Missouri Department of Transportation reported that most major roadways were covered and clearing them was a challenge for two reasons: The wind was blowing cleared snow back onto the pavement, and it was so cold the salt used to melt ice and snow wasn’t very effective.

MoDOT encouraged people to stay in unless absolutely necessary. The conditions were so bad they were a danger even to MoDOT workers driving the plows and trucks, spokeswoman Marie Elliott said.

“We’re experiencing thunder-snow and white-out conditions,” Elliott said. “If it gets to the point where it’s no longer safe, we will consider suspending operations.”

Temperatures were largely in the 20s in the morning but expected to drop throughout the day, National Weather Service meteorologist Butch Dye said. By the pre-dawn hours of Monday, temperatures across much of Missouri will be below zero, perhaps as low as minus 10 with a wind chill of minus-25.

“It’s just a dangerous cold,” Dye said.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported several weather-related accidents, but there were no immediate reports of fatal wrecks. Lambert Airport had more than 130 flight cancellations. Things were better at Kansas City International Airport, though there were a couple of dozen flights delayed or canceled, according to the airport’s website.

The weather change was swift. Saturday’s highs were in the 40s, and many people used that opportunity to prepare for the worst. St.  Joseph’s Catholic Church in Cottleville, Mo., near St. Louis, had lines of cars waiting to get into 5 p.m. Mass, as parishioners opting for the Saturday service rather than try to venture out in the Sunday snow. Good thing: The church, one of the largest in Missouri, was closed Sunday.

Grocery stores sold out of the essentials before Sunday’s weather onslaught.

“The problem is the bread is sold out. We’re out of milk. We sold out of chips, chicken wings, some meats,” Issa Arar of Salama Supermarket in St. Louis said.

St. Louis was at a virtual standstill. The Gateway Arch, St. Louis Art Museum, the Fox Theatre and St. Louis Zoo were part of the seemingly endless list of entities that closed. Shopping malls and movie theaters closed, too. Even Hidden Valley Ski Resort, the region’s only ski area, shut down.

Dye said the only good news was that brutal conditions should be short-lived. Snow was expected to end by Sunday evening, and while the cold will remain for a couple of days, it should give way to milder weather by mid-week, with much of the state seeing highs in the 30s by Wednesday.

 

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