Metro-East News

Ice and freezing rain cause treacherous driving conditions, cancellations

IDOT’s tips for driving in winter weather

Here are some tips from the Illinois Department of Transportation for driving in winter weather. Video produced by IDOT.
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Here are some tips from the Illinois Department of Transportation for driving in winter weather. Video produced by IDOT.

A winter storm brought sleet and freezing rain to the region on Sunday, causing dozens of accidents and multiple closings, mostly churches.

Ice coated roadways and windshields, reminiscent of the ice storm that gripped the Midwest in December 2017. Many motorists found it difficult to go up hills, and cars were seen in ditches throughout the region. But as temperatures rose throughout the morning, conditions improved.

“We’re still seeing some freezing rain in the area. This morning roads were rather slick and some roads were closed. We’ve seen a pretty active pattern,” said Brett Rossio, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather. Ice was expected to melt Sunday afternoon as temperatures hit the mid- to upper-30s, but then freeze again Sunday night.

“What we have is a one-two punch. Tonight we might have a little sleet. But, generally tomorrow (Monday) we will see mainly rain,” Rossio said.

Many churches canceled services Sunday morning. Those who ventured out said the roads were nearly impassable at 6 a.m., but decent driving conditions prevailed by 10. Among other closings in the St. Louis area included the Zoo and Gateway Arch, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Click here for a list of closings today from KSDK.com.

Some motorists reported that it was very difficult to see Sunday morning because of the fast falling freezing rain and the wind speed. Metro buses were running behind schedule, but MetroLink was still running, the agency reported.

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A car veered off the roadway on northbound Interstate 255 near Illinois 15 in Alorton. St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency

The weather made road conditions very hazardous, said Joe Monroe an engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“Right now, we are in decent shape,” he said at noon. “We have trucks out in 11 counties. There are still some slick spots. So, I don’t want to be overly optimistic,” Monroe said.

But with the increase in temperatures as the morning went on, which warmed the roads up a bit, IDOT and local crews were able to spread salt and de-ice the roads and make them safer for travel.

“With the amount of chemical we were able to get down, the roads are slushy or slushy wet,” he said. The chemical IDOT uses is a mixture of rock salt and salt Brine, Monroe said.

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Salt trucks were pressed into service Sunday as a wintry mix of ice and sleet covered the St. Louis area and metro-east. File photo

When IDOT crews started out early this morning, they ran into roads “that were iced over,” Monroe said .. And, sometimes there was steady freezing rain. So much so, “that it knocked the chemicals off. This was between 6 a.m.- and 9 a.m.. At 9 a.m., things started to heat up,” Monroe said.

Illinois State Police Cap. Tim Tyler, said, “Since 5:30 a.m., Illinois State Police have handled 106 calls for service incidents, and 34 crashes, including a minor squad car crash where the trooper slid into a guard rail.” No serious injuries have been reported.

Reports from local police, including the sheriff’s departments in St. Clair and Madison counties, were not immediately available.

Tyler said ISP will bring in additional troopers to support the inclement weather conditions.

Herb Simmons, director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, said there were about a dozen crashes throughout the county, including a tractor-trailer that left Interstate 64 and ended up along Illinois 157 in Caseyville. “We heard of some injuries, but most people were saying they were OK. Some people were stranded in their cars when they went off the roadway,” Simmons said.

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Cars that slid off the road llike this one at I-55 at Reavis Barracks Road in St. Louis were a common sight Sunday. KTVI Fox 2 News

Fairview Heights Police reported that Mike Terry of Terry’s Gine and Garden was salting the street on Jubaka Drive when he heard a cry for help. It was coming from 80-year-old Margeret Dunlaney, who ha slipped and fallen on the ice outside her home. Terry called 911 stayed with her until help arrived.

One power outage affecting about 650 customers was reported in the Venice, Madison and Granite City areas, according to Kelly Hendrickson, a spokeswoman for Ameren Illinois. “A line fell on another. Crews are in the area,” she said.

The forecast calls for the wintry mix to abate, but rain to remain. There is a 90 percent change of rain Monday with .a high of 38 degrees. There is a 100 percent chance of rain Tuesday, with a quarter-inch of rain expected.

Carolyn P. Smith has worked for the Belleville News-Democrat for 18 years and currently covers breaking news in the Metro-East. She graduated from the Journalism School at the University of Missouri at Columbia and says news is in her DNA.


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