A brutal winter storm that’s taking aim on a large portion of the U.S. began dumping very heavy snow in Kansas, blanketing roads and causing accidents.
A bitter winter storm that dumped at least 10 inches of snow on St. Louis Saturday left five people dead in crashes on slick roadways in Kansas and Missouri as it spread eastward across the country, authorities said.
A woman and her 14-year-old stepdaughter died after their car slid into a semitrailer in Clinton, about 80 miles southeast of Kansas City, Missouri State Highway Patrol said Friday.
Another woman died when her car slid in northern Missouri and was hit by an oncoming SUV.
In Kansas, a 62-year old man died after his pickup truck skidded into a concrete barrier, the patrol said. And another crash involved two semitrailers, killing a 41-year old driver from Mexico.
By Saturday night, the storm had shifted toward the Virginia and Washington, D.C., area, where 5 to 10 inches of snow is expected, according to the National Weather Service. The weather prediction center said that freezing rain will also be a concern in parts of the Mid-Atlantic.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm, the governor’s office announced Saturday.
“I am declaring a state of emergency in order to prepare and coordinate the Commonwealth’s response to anticipated winter storm impacts, including snow and ice accumulations, transportation issues, and power outages,” said Northam.
The state of emergency allows the state to “mobilize resources and to deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts,” according to a news release.
St. Louis, which caught the brunt of the storm so far, recorded 10.1 inches, forcing the closure of sections of Interstates 44, 64 and 70 around the city. More than 11,000 customers were without power in Missouri as the heavy snow snapped branches and downed power lines.
Parts of central Missouri, around Harrisburg, reported up to 17 inches of snow.
Columbia, Missouri, was buried under 13 inches of snow, more than doubling a 109-year-old record for snowfall with more expected Saturday.
Bob Becker, district maintenance engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, told would-be travelers Saturday morning: “If you can stay home, you probably should.”
He said some motorists were stranded by the ice and snow for up to nine hours on Interstate 44 late Friday.
“I’m sorry they got stuck and we wish it wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “St. Louis unfortunately was the bullseye of this storm.”
In a Saturday morning tweet, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson urged drivers to stay off the roads until conditions improve.
Missouri State Highway Patrol tweeted Saturday that it responded to 637 calls for service, assisted 343 stranded motorists, and 122 crashes with 10 injuries.
Snow covered roads and highways Saturday morning across much of southeastern Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri and Kansas, adding to travel headaches.
Travelers along the Interstate 64 and 70 corridors of the Plains and Midwest can expect treacherous driving conditions.
The winter storm, which was expected to stretch 1,500 miles before it moves out to sea, was anchored in Denver, which saw up to 5 inches of snow in some areas. Antero Junction, Colorado, southwest of the city, recorded 14 inches. Parts of northern New Mexico were also hit by heavy snows, with 12 inches recorded near Talpa, New Mexico.
Significant icing is expected for the southern Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont region of North Carolina and southwest.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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