Metro-East News

Latest on the storm: Roads icing up, new accumulation forecasts

Road crews keeping ahead of storm

Salt trucks were busy Friday morning trying to get ahead of the severe ice storm headed for southwestern Illinois. Fairview Heights, IL, road crews loaded trucks for another round of pre-treatment.
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Salt trucks were busy Friday morning trying to get ahead of the severe ice storm headed for southwestern Illinois. Fairview Heights, IL, road crews loaded trucks for another round of pre-treatment.

7:45 p.m.: MetroLink service between Fairview Heights and Shiloh-Scott stations is restored with trains being delayed by 10 to 15 minutes. MetroLink officials said some MetroBus routes are experiencing delays of 10 to 15 minutes.

5:15 p.m.: After being quiet for most of the day, troopers with the Illinois State Police started responding to more traffic crashes with the start of rush hour around 4 p.m., according to Trooper Calvin Dye Jr.

Dye said there were no serious crashes. Dye said troopers were still seeing drivers tailgating others as they drove down the slick roads. “If you rear-end someone, we can write you a ticket for following too closely,” Dye said.

5 p.m.: Conditions for Metro users continued to deteriorate throughout the day. MetroLink users between the Fairview Heights and Shiloh-Scott stations were being bussed and experiencing delays between 30 to 45 minutes because trains could not run between those stations because of weather conditions. Several MetroBus routes, including No. 8 Bates-Morganford, No. 58X Twin Oaks Express, No. 80 Park-Shaw, No. 110 Affton and No. 410 Eureka Express were experiencing delays of 30 to 60 minutes.

4:55 p.m.: Roads starting to get icy:

4:30 p.m.: MetroLink shuttles were transporting passengers by bus between the Fairview Heights and Shiloh-Scott stations. Metro said shuttles would be used to serve the Fairview Heights, Memorial Hospital, Swansea, Belleville, College and Shiloh-Scott stations. MetroLink officials said trains were unable to operate between those stations because of the weather conditions. All MetroLink stations to the west of the Fairview Heights stop were not experiencing any significant delays.

4:10 p.m.: MetroLink passengers using the train service between the Fairview Heights and Shiloh-Scott stations may experience delays of between 20 and 30 minutes because of weather conditions, officials said.

4:05 p.m.: Road update from Illinois State Police:

3:35 p.m.: Dierbergs announced all of its stores would close at 6:30 p.m. Stores were to reopen, fully stocked, on Saturday morning, according to a news release from the company.

3:30 p.m.: MetroLink officials said trains were experiencing delays of between 5 and 10 minutes because of weather conditions. All MetroBus routes were operating on normal service, and Metro Call-A-Ride was not experiencing any delays.

3:20 p.m.: An event to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1917 East St. Louis race riot was postponed. Originally set for Saturday, event organizers announced they would be postponing the event because of inclement weather. Organizers said they were working to find a date in February to hold the event.

3:10 p.m.: So far, so good on Illinois interstates and highways. Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. said troopers had not had to respond to any major crashes. Dye was hopeful to get through rush hour traffic without any major incidents.

2:50 p.m.: Schnucks announced all of its St. Louis-area stores would close at 7 p.m. The stores planned to reopen at 6 a.m. Saturday.

2:40 p.m.: Many businesses were announcing closings. St. Clair County EMA director Herb Simmons, during a chat conducted on the agency’s Facebook page: “There is still more to come. We have several more rounds of precipitation coming.”

1:55 p.m.: St. Clair Square announced that it would close at 3 p.m. due to weather conditions, but department store hours and restaurant hours may vary.

1:30 p.m.: The latest forecast from the National Weather Service is calling for more freezing rain this afternoon with a high near 31 and northeast winds from eight to 11 mph.

Tonight, more freezing rain as temperatures drop to about 28 degrees. Forecasters are calling for new ice accumulation of around 0.1 to 0.3 inches.

The ice storm warning is in effect through Sunday morning.

1:20 p.m.: St. Clair County EMA director Herb Simmons said there were no major weather-related accidents or incidents reported to dispatch.

However, he said crews have responded to multiple minor traffic accidents and people who have fallen on the ice and suffered injuries.

12:05 p.m.: A couple updates from BND Facebook friends:

11:05 a.m.: Downtown Belleville appeared nearly deserted Friday morning.

A number of downtown Belleville businesses chose to close due to the weather.

Green Forest Vapor Shop co-owner Nicole Barhoumi opened her store around 10 a.m. Twenty minutes later, she said, one customer had already made a purchase.

“We don’t plan on staying open (until 9 p.m.), and only managers are working today — we let employees stay home,” Barhoumi said. “We are open so customers can get their last-minute items before they are stuck.”

Barhoumi, who owns the shop with her husband Joseph Barhoumi, said vapor supplies are like food and other essentials to those who choose to vape rather than smoke cigarettes.

She wanted to make sure they were able to get those supplies rather than buying cigarettes at a gas station or store.

“We are keeping our Facebook up-to-date, so when we close our customers will know,” she said.

Barhoumi said she was happy that city crews had salted the sidewalks, although few pedestrians could be seen Friday morning braving the cold and icy conditions.

Belleville, IL, street department trucks load up and hit the streets to lay down salt to melt ice on the roads.

10:55 a.m.: The latest advisory from the National Weather Service:

“Light to moderate freezing rain is moving east across the area this morning, mainly along and south of Interstate 70. Roads are becoming slick and hazardous in a number of locations. Amounts range from just a glazing up to a little over a tenth of an inch of ice. The overall trend is for the precipitation to drift northward through the afternoon hours.”

10:45 a.m.: Illinois State Police Trooper Calvin Dye Jr. said police have received far fewer calls than they did last month when the St. Louis region received freezing drizzle and ice. No major traffic incidents had been reported on major metro-east roadways as of 10:45 a.m., he said.

“It appears that people have listened to all of the warnings from IDOT and the state police to stay home,” Dye said. “Many businesses and schools are closed, so we’re seeing a lot less traffic out here on the interstates. Our calls for service have been very minimal at this point. Hopefully, it remains like this during our evening rush hour when drivers are returning home from work from about 2:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.”

10:30 a.m: High school sports have been shut down through the weekend, including the Highland girls basketball invitational, the Alton girls shootout and IHSA regional wrestling tournaments at Alton and Belleville East. A list of all cancellations and available makeup dates can be found here.

10:30 a.m.: Report of injuries from falls:

9:50 a.m.: The St. Louis Cardinals announced the cancellation of the first day of the Winter Warm-Up Saturday at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch. Officials are hoping to hold the Sunday and Monday festivities at the annual event, although those schedules could be revised due to the storm.

“We are very disappointed that we need to cancel the first day of the Warm-Up,” said Michael Hall, Executive Director of Cardinals Care and Vice President of Community Relations. “With a little help from Mother Nature, we look forward to welcoming fans to Sunday and Monday’s activities at the Warm-Up as we kick off the 2017 season by helping kids in our community.”

The 59th Annual St. Louis Baseball Writers Dinner is still on for 6:30 p.m. Sunday at The Union Station Hotel.

The St. Clair County, IL, Emergency Management Agency on Friday was live streaming weather updates on social media. The ice storm started glazing hard surfaces Friday morning but roads were still in decent shape.

9:30 a.m. As of mid-morning, metro-east interstates were open and traffic was running normally, according to a map posted by the Illinois Department of Transportation. However, some roadways in Missouri, particularly just south and west of St. Louis, were beginning to see some ice buildup.

9:20 a.m.: Metro reported that MetroLink and buses were running on time as of 9:20 a.m.

9:05 a.m.: The latest advisory from the National Weather Service for the St. Louis region:

“The precipitation will continue through the weekend, with the freezing rain changing to rain at times where the surface temperatures climb above freezing. This storm will bring between one quarter inch to three quarters of an inch of ice accumulation to the area. Plan now for hazardous travel conditions on untreated roadways. Ice buildup may also cause some tree limbs to break and produce scattered power outages.”

8:45 a.m.: Traffic on Illinois 159 between Swansea and into downtown Belleville was running smoothly, with light traffic on what would otherwise be a normally busy state highway on a Friday work morning. Trucks were applying salt along roadways, while sidewalks and roads were beginning to glaze over.

Meanwhile, the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency held a live Facebook video to answer questions about the weather and road conditions. Bryan Whitaker reported in the video that the county was starting to see “substantial icing.”

8:30 a.m.: The French Village Fire Department reported that a truck with a salt-spreader on the back apparently caught fire sometime late Thursday night, in the area of Interstate 64 and Illinois 157:

truck onfire

7:45 a.m.: Precipitation being reported across the region:

7:15 a.m.: Motorists reporting precipitation in Belleville area:

7:05 a.m.: Reports of freezing rain in Washington and Randolph counties:

7 a.m.: Report of ice in Columbia:

6:45 a.m.: Numerous school districts and government offices in the region are closed for Friday. Before driving, make a call to the office or check its website to see if it’s even open for the day. School closings list here.

6:30 a.m.: It appeared road crews were on offense as the weather approached. Motorists reported that salt trucks were being seen on roads across the region. Commuters said salt was visible on many roads.

6:20 a.m.: An ice storm warning was to go into effect 9 a.m. Friday and last until noon Sunday in the St. Louis region, including the metro-east, according to the National Weather Service. The area could see one-quarter to one-half of an inch of ice, the advisory said early Friday.

The skies were overcast at 6:20 a.m. in the metro-east with a temperature lingering around 28. The National Weather Service reported that freezing rain was likely to come mainly after 7 a.m.

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