(KFVS) - The first snowfall of the year in the Heartland led to some slide-offs throughout southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and western Kentucky.
The First Alert weather team issued an Action Day as cold temperatures and snow entered the Heartland overnight on Wednesday and into the morning hours on Thursday.
The Action Day was focused on some northern Heartland counties and the I-70 corridor in Illinois where they will see several inches of snow. Also, temperatures were in the lower 20s in most areas as the snow falls.
A Winter Weather Advisory went into effect at midnight and lasted until 6 p.m. on Thursday for northern parts of the Heartland
A snow system moved from the central plains into the Heartland at around 4 a.m. on Thursday.
Light snow began before sunrise Thursday and continued throughout the day.
Snow accumulated 1-3 inches north of Route 13 in southern Illinois and southeast Missouri.
Emergency crews had to pull a car out of an embankment on Highway 13 outside of Murphysboro before 8 a.m.
Watch bridges and overpasses for slick spots.
The Missouri Department of Transportation says drivers should avoid travel if possible late on Wednesday night and into Thursday due to incoming accumulating snow and bitterly cold temperatures.
According to MoDOT, travel on Missouri's roads should be restricted to necessary trips especially on Thursday morning.
Roads are partly covered or completely covered north of Cape Girardeau county.
According to the Perry County Sheriff's Department, both lanes of Highway H near the railroad tracks are partially blocked because of a semi crash.
Our crew on the scene says the semi slid off the road.
Crews from MoDOT are on the scene working to treat the road in an effort to make it easier to travel.
The sheriff's department says avoid Highway H from Highway M to Highway 61.
Conditions are very slick.
Drivers are encouraged to only drive if necessary. The sheriff's department says drivers need to slow down and use caution.
MoDOT says morning rush hour commutes will be impacted by the winter weather across most of Missouri.
"MoDOT crews will be out early tonight preparing before the storm moves in from northwest Missouri to southeast Missouri, but lower temperatures in the teens will make the chemicals not as effective," said MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer Becky Allmeroth. "The heaviest band of snowfall is expected to hit during the peak of Thursday morning rush hour, and we advise motorists to postpone travel during that time."
If a section of highway is shut down for extended periods, drivers should heed the warnings on digital signs and exit the highway at the next available exit.
Illinois State Police issued a Winter Weather Travel Advisory on Wednesday. ISP District 13 warned drivers to take the necessary precautions before getting behind the wheel. They say stranded motorists are encouraged to remain inside their vehicles with their seatbelts on and wait for first responders to arrive.
According to ISP, with the potential for other drivers to lose control of their vehicles in the same location as themselves, it's a recipe for disaster to be outside of your vehicle.
As of 7 a.m. on Thursday, Illinois State Police say the call volume has picked up in southern Illinois.
ISP says they have seen the most calls in southern Williamson County. Troopers are seeing a lot of slide-offs along I-57 south of Marion. There have been about half-dozen calls from that area.
They also remind drivers to yield to emergency and snow removal equipment. Scott's Law requires drivers to reduce speed, change lanes if possible and proceed with due caution when approaching emergency vehicles.
ISP provided the following safety tips for drivers:
- Plan ahead and check the forecast - Determine if the trip is necessary during inclement weather
- If you have to get out, make sure your vehicle is prepared for the journey as well. Ensure all of its fluids are topped off, the tire pressures and tread depths are checked and your windshield wipers are in good condition
- Don't Crowd the Plow! - Remember, a snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you
- Watch out for black ice - Roads that appear clear may be treacherous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to black ice
- Always keep your gas tank at least two-thirds full
- Dress warmly for the weather - Dress in layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in anticipation of unexpected winter weather emergencies
- Make sure someone is aware of your travel route
- Always carry an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit
- Always carry a charged cell phone
- Always wear a safety belt
The Williamson County Fire Protection District is preparing for snow on Thursday.
While still not certain, a band of light snow may reach the Interstate 64 corridor of southern Illinois just before daybreak on Thursday. The bulk of the accumulating snowfall is expected in the morning hours.
Warming center in Kentucky
Benton's Joe Creason Building in Benton Park will be open for a warming center. The hours include Thursday, Jan. 5 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.; Friday, Jan. 6 from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.; and Saturday, Jan. 7 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
The Hardin Community Center will be open as a warming center during the following nights:
- Thursday, Jan. 5: 6 p.m. - 6 a.m.
- Friday, Jan. 6: 6 p.m. - 6 a.m.
- Saturday, Jan. 7: 6 p.m. - 6 a.m.
Crews pre-treating roads
As of noon on Thursday, KYTC crews were spreading salt after less than a half-inch of snow fell across District 1 counties. Crews mainly concentrated on bridges and overpasses, but responded to a number of calls from police agencies about specific slick spots.
According to Keith Todd with KYTC, there have been a number of minor crashes, mainly along the I-24 corridor and Purchase Parkway through west Kentucky.
Crews will continue salting as needed through the day. Todd said they are expecting another round of snow to roll through before sunset.
He said their main concern going into the overnight hours is the potential for re-freezing. Overnight temps are expected to be down in the teens. Salt and other ice-fighting chemicals become less effective at melting snow and ice below about 18 degrees.
Kentucky State Police has some safe winter travel tips:
- Check road and weather conditions before you leave by clicking here to visit goky.ky.gov, an online traffic, roadway information and weather portal operated by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. It's user-friendly and offers real-time information that is updated every 2 minutes. (Refrain from calling KSP posts or 911 for road or weather conditions due to high call volume).
- Reduce speed in wintery conditions
- Leave early - allow more travel time; expect delays
- Increase distance between vehicles - the ability to stop is significantly affected on snow covered or icy roadways
- Clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel - having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision
- Ensure your windshield washer fluid is full and that you use an anti-ice solution
- Turn on your vehicle's headlamps. Remove any dirt, mud or snow
- Use caution on bridges and overpasses as they are susceptible to freezing before roadways
- Avoid using cruise control which can cause a vehicle's wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased
- Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time
- Charge your cell phone prior to leaving
- Always dress warmly and keep a blanket in the vehicle
- Carry a winter survival kit that includes items such as blankets, a first-aid kit, a can and waterproof matches (to melt snow for water), windshield scraper, booster cables, road maps, tool kit, bag of sand or cat litter (to pour on ice or snow for added traction), collapsible shovel, flashlight and extra batteries
KSP is also asking people to look out for stranded drivers. If you see or suspect that someone is stranded, call KSP at 1-800-222-5555.
If you get stranded, staying in your vehicle is often the safest choice. KSP has these tips:
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna as a signal to rescuers
- Move anything you need from the trunk into the passenger area
- Wrap your entire body, including your head, in blankets, or extra clothing
- Stay awake. You will be less vulnerable to cold-related health problems
- Run the motor (and heater) for about 10 minutes per hour, opening one window slightly to let air in. Make sure that snow is not blocking the exhaust pipe, this will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
- As you sit, keep moving your arms and legs to improve your circulation and stay warmer
- Do not eat un-melted snow. It will lower your body temperature
Also remember to bring in your pets when the temperatures drop.
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