(KFVS) - A wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain hit the Heartland Thursday causing schools to close Thursday and Friday, power outages, and several fender benders.
Warmer temperatures Friday helped ice melt off trees, houses, and power lines.
The storm downed many trees and branches across the Heartland.
An old black oak tree was split three ways on County Road 422 in Bollinger County off of Highway T. There is only one way in and out of County Road 422 and only two houses on the road. Dennis Nenninger lives in one of them. He saw he tree on his way to work early Friday morning.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to the severe winter storm.
"A severe winter storm continues to bear down on communities across the state," Gov. Nixon said. "Missouri stands ready to help communities in need and to deploy the resources to keep folks safe. I urge all Missourians to keep a close eye on the weather and avoid unnecessary travel."
Nixon has been receiving updates from his emergency management team, including senior officials from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Missouri National Guard, Missouri State Highway Patrol and State Emergency Management Agency to assess the current weather situation and review the latest forecasts.
Gov. Nixon has also activated the Missouri State Emergency Operations Plan, which allows state agencies to coordinate directly with local jurisdictions to provide emergency services.
The governor's office is urging if you need disaster information, shelter information, and referrals to call 211. The 211 Service is now available for most areas of Missouri. In areas where the 211 service is not operational, citizens may call 800-427-4626.
Gov. Nixon is also encouraging Missourians to take steps to protect themselves and their families, including:
• Listen to radio, television, or NOAA Weather Radio for weather reports and emergency information, or visit the state's Web site – MO.gov – for comprehensive emergency information.
• If you must drive, check MO.gov for road conditions before departing. Dial the Missouri State Highway Patrol's emergency line - *55 from a cellular phone – if you encounter an accident while driving.
• Check on the elderly and neighbors who may be in need of additional assistance. For information about emergency services and resources, visit MO.gov.
As of the mid-morning hours on Friday, Feb. 22, the majority of Missouri's most-traveled routes, such as interstates and U.S. highways, are returning to mostly clear or normal driving conditions.
Drivers should notice rapidly improving conditions through the day.
Road conditions vary greatly across the state. In the northwest corner, most roads remain snow-covered. In the southeast, drivers should watch for slow-moving or stopped vehicles as crews remove fallen tree limbs from roadways.
Even in parts of the state where driving lanes are clear, many ramps and bridges still need attention. Drivers should be aware that trucks and other equipment may be on or near roadways, removing snow from intersections, barrier walls and guard rail. Across much of the state, crews must focus their attention on lower-traffic routes as well.
Check the latest travel conditions in Missouri on MoDot's Traveler Information Map, available online at www.modot.org or through the new smartphone app. You can zoom in to a particular location, check live weather radar and view images from MoDOT's traffic cameras and message boards.
MoDOT also provides road conditions information through its Customer Service Center. Dial 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636) to speak a customer service representative. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The Missouri Highway Patrol asks drivers to still be cautious on the roads as temperatures near the freezing mark can cause melted ice to refreeze.
The Highway Patrol is also reporting that most roads in southeast Mo. are just wet as of Friday morning, but there is still potential for black ice and slick spots on bridges and overpasses.
Drivers should also be aware of black ice and slick patches that may be hard to see.
Slick bridges and overpasses contributed to several wrecks on Thursday.
Travelers are being advised that some flights out of Lambert International Airport are still canceled, although the airport has been reopened.
I-55 at the Diversion Channel Bridge in Cape Girardeau was closed at one point on Thursday and there were several accidents being reported throughout the area due to the slick road conditions.
A wreck on Hwy C south of Fredericktown Thursday morning injured two people when a vehicle driven by Delbert L. Mayfield, 50, of Fredericktown slid on the sleet covered road and struck a culvert and overturned in a water filled creek. Both Delbert Mayfield and his passenger, Joseph A. Mayfield, 52, of Fredericktown were taken to Madison Medical Center with minor injuries.
Two people were injured Thursday afternoon after a crash in Carter County, north of Van Buren. The driver, Clayton Fears, 55, of Winona, Mo. lost control on an ice covered part of Hwy M, ran off the road and struck a tree. Fears' and his passenger, Yvonne Fears, 42, of Winona were both taken to Mercy Hospital with minor injuries.
Areas to the north may still have issues Friday morning with freezing temperatures possibly making conditions dangerous.
Drivers are still asked to use caution on the roads and watch for road crews, electric crews and possible slick areas.
Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said drivers should be careful on gravel roads since they can freeze more quickly, and to look out for down power lines or tree branches. The ice can get heavy and weigh them down over the roads.
Walter also suggests staying on more traveled roads if you have to be out. The road is more likely to be clear, and if you do have car troubles, emergency crews can get to you more easily.
Cape Girardeau County- 1
Stoddard County - 18
Black River Electric Cooperative is reporting 4,400 people without power as of 6:30 Friday morning, primarily across Wayne, Reynolds, Iron, Madison and Bollinger counties in Mo. That number is down from 13,000.
Ozark Border Electric Coop reports 1,000 outages Friday morning at 11:30 and expects all customers to have restored power by dark Friday.
SEMO Electric Cooperative experienced power outages overnight due to high winds. Most of the outages were caused by "galloping" transmission power lines that feed electricity into a substation. Galloping lines occur when high winds force power lines to bounce. The bouncing becomes so violent that either the line comes off the pole or the lines cross, causing the outage. Power was restored to SEMO Electric members within a few hours.
Crews from SEMO Electric, Black River Electric Company, Ameren and many others were working all Thursday afternoon and into the overnight hours getting power restored for thousands of residents all over the Heartland.
The outages were being caused by ice-laden trees and tree limbs falling onto power lines and by the extra weight of the ice on the power lines.
Some supplies to be sure to have during winter weather:
- ice scraper
- heavy coat
- phone charger
- warm hat
Illinois State Police in District 19 are warning drivers to prepare for winter weather conditions and to use caution while out on the roads today. They have the following tips for driving in winter weather:
- Plan ahead and check the forecast. Decide if the trip is necessary during bad weather.
- Don't crowd snow plows. A snowplow operator's field of vision is limited and even if you see them, they may not be able to see you.
- Watch for black ice. Roads can seem clear, but may be dangerous.
- Use caution when at intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shaded areas. All of these areas can be prone to black ice.