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• Snowfall totals of 8-12 inches have been reported across the metro area through Saturday. Forecasters expect up to 2 more inches of precipitation overnight, leaving 10-15 inches of snow and a light glaze of ice by the time it ends Sunday. With nighttime temperatures hovering near or below freezing, the icy mix could lead to treacherous roads and sidewalks.

• Eastbound Interstate 44 opened from west of Pacific to near Eureka has reopened, but MoDOT said to use extreme caution in that area. Traffic in the rest of St. Louis and St. Louis County remains slow as workers try to clear snow and accidents. Dozens of flights in and out of Lambert International Airport have been canceled.

• PHOTOS: St. Louis begins to dig out from massive snowstorm

• Find the latest forecast

Check the latest area closings

• Check local traffic conditions

• Road conditions and closures from MoDOT


Digging Out Begins

"I am just digging out my girlfriend's car," said Jeff Clifford, who uncovers a somewhat buried car along the 6400 block of Oakland Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in St. Louis. The winter storm warning was extended until 6 a.m. Sunday with moderate snow still falling Saturday and the possibility of freezing drizzle as well. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

UPDATE, 8:20 p.m.: Snow totals across the St. Louis metro range between 8 and 12 inches. National Weather Service reports snow totals farther west, closer to Columbia, ranging from 12 to 19 inches. Montgomery City, Mo. reports 20 inches. Snow, occasionally mixed with sleet, rain or freezing drizzle, continues to fall in and around St. Louis.

UPDATE, 4:00 p.m.: Airlines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport cancelled 55 arrivals and 62 departures for Saturday. The airport remains operational but more delays and cancellations are expected Sunday.

Snow Storm Strikes St. Louis

Dennis Jackson helps his sister clear snow off her car Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019 on Gravois Avenue. "They got really close to the cars" Lorayne West, Jackson's sister, says of the snowplows, adding that "all the car mirrors along the street were flipped around." Photo by Colter Peterson, cpeterson@post-dispatch.com

Digging Out Begins

"We measured this morning. We got 8 inches," said Mark Nankivil of St. Louis, who clears his sidewalk in front of house along the 6700 block of Clayton Avenue on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in St. Louis. The winter storm warning was extended until 6 a.m. Sunday with moderate snow still falling Saturday and the possibility of freezing drizzle as well. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

UPDATE, 9:41 a.m.:  A Troy, Ill., man died in crash on snow-covered and icy roads Friday night after losing control of his vehicle and crossing into oncoming traffic, striking a van. 

ORIGINAL STORY: The heavy snow whipping across the St. Louis region saw 30-minute commutes stretch to hours, tractor-trailers sliding off everything and hundreds of businesses and attractions shutting down early Friday — and entirely on Saturday — and it's not done yet.

With the National Weather Service calling for another 2 to 4 inches across the area on Saturday, snow totals could end up with record or near-record accumulations. It also extended the winter storm warning for the entire area until 6 a.m. Sunday with snow and freezing drizzle expected to last longer than earlier thought. 

People cope with major snowstorm

Sean Hall of Belleville zooms down a steep slope at East End Park in Belleville on Saturday morning January 12, 2019. People were busy digging out -- and some were having fun -- after a major snowstorm hit the St. Louis metropolitan region. Photo by Tim Vizer

As of 6 a.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service reported that 9.8 inches of snow had fallen in St. Louis and Columbia was hit especially hard with 14.5 inches. Belleville residents saw 8.3 inches.

The snow caused mayhem on St. Louis-area interstates and other roads, particularly during the evening rush hour Friday when drivers reported hours being added to their commutes.

By Saturday, when fewer people were on the road, traffic conditions had improved, although were far from normal.

But some St. Louisans were able to get out to enjoy the snow. By mid-afternoon Saturday, at least three dozen people played at Blackburn Park in Webster Groves.

Snow forts, sledding strips and lines of snowmen pocked the park's south end as Christopher St. John, 13, sat on a green disc at the top of a short hill.

“Gold medal run,” said his dad, Brent, as Christoper shot down the slope.

He hit a short bump and caught a little air.

“We haven't seen a snow like this since you were in third grade,” St. John told his son.

The family had been there about an hour, but as snow turned to rain, and then rain to ice, they packed up.

Heidi, their 9-year-old and 90 pound Bernese Mountain Dog, whined. She didn't want to go.

Traffic tie-ups

It certainly wasn't fun for drivers on area roads. Perhaps the Illinois State Police said it best in a tweet about 5:30 a.m. Saturday, advising drivers to stay off the roads: 

The message was echoed by the Missouri Department of Transportation at a 6:30 a.m. news conference on Saturday. Bob Becker, district maintenance engineer, said: "If you can stay home, you probably should.

One of the worst points of gridlock Friday and into Saturday was Interstate 44, which turned into a parking lot where motorists were stranded for as long as nine hours in some cases, and Becker was peppered with questions and stories about why conditions were so bad.

"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."

He said regardless of how many resources MoDOT uses during a massive storm, "at some points, the roads are going to get slick" and cause problems.

As early as 11 a.m. Friday, MoDOT and other agencies were warning commuters that the snow would start falling earlier than earlier forecast and people should leave work early if possible. But he acknowledged that "rush hour did start earlier." 

Early on Saturday afternoon, eastbound Interstate 44 opened from west of Pacific to near Eureka had re-opened to traffic.

Interstate 70 and Highway 40 (Interstate 64) also saw a series of tie-ups.

"No one could see the lanes. A lot of cars were losing traction," said Jamie Eiermann, a junior at St. Louis University, of driving on Highway 40. 

She and some friends were headed to Plaza Frontenac to see "Mary Queen of Scots." They got onto the highway at Skinker Boulevard around 5, but gave up on seeing the movie after about an hour of fighting snow-induced gridlock.

They ended up spending the night in Webster Groves with a friend.

"A lot of good conversations come out of idling in your car for hours," quipped Eiermann, 21.

And hours is what many spent in their vehicles. MoDOT said Saturday morning that Interstate 44 remained blocked in places near St. Louis. The agency said eastbound travelers on Interstate 44 coming in from Oklahoma should seek a southern route at exit 82 (U.S. Highway 65), and there were six- to eight-hour delays near St. Louis. MoDOT recommended that travelers already near St. Louis take a detour at exit 251 near Pacific.

JoAnn Poynter's commute from Eureka to Imperial usually takes about 45 minutes. 

On Friday night, it was 11 ½ hours — she got home about 2:30 a.m.

For 10 of those hours, she was at a virtual standstill, stuck between two semi tractor-trailers.

“If we moved, it was not even a car's length,” she said.

She said she was thankful she had a full tank of gas — she kept herself going by snacking on groceries she'd bought before getting on the interstate.

State Rep. Peter Merideth, who lives in south St. Louis, documented his 11-hour drive home from Jefferson City on Friday night on Facebook. Traffic was jammed so badly that he built a family of snowmen, complete with a dog, on his car's hood.

He also noted the seriousness of the situation.

"Literally hundreds of cars out of gas, stalled, in ditches, crashed into medians, turned the wrong direction, spinning wheels in dangerous places," he posted.

A Troy, Ill., man was killed about 5 p.m. Friday when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed into oncoming traffic, striking a van, as he drove east on Highway 40 about half a mile west of Lake Road, according to Illinois State Police.

It was snowing and the road was covered with snow and ice when the crash happened, police said Saturday.

Allen Reinacher, 73, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a seat belt. A woman and three passengers in the van he struck were taken to St Joseph’s Hospital in Highland with non life-threatening injuries.

MetroLink was operating on schedule Saturday — but some bus routes were experiencing significant delays, Metro Transit said. Bus riders should text Metro Transit at 314-207-9786 to check the status of their bus before they leave for the bus stop.

As of 4:00 p.m. Saturday, airlines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport had canceled 55 arrivals and 62 departures for Saturday, the airport said, adding that it will remain open and operational. Check the status of your flight with your airline before heading to the airport — click here for a list of phone numbers of the airlines that serve Lambert.

In addition to travel delays, many St. Louis institutions were closed Saturday. Among them: the St. Louis Science Center,  all three Missouri Historical Society locations, the St. Louis Zoo, the city and county libraries and the St. Louis Art Museum.

Read our earlier story from Friday night:

Photos: Massive winter storm moves into St. Louis area 

• Find the latest forecast

• Check local traffic conditions

• Road conditions and closures from MoDOT

Amanda St. Amand • 314-340-8201

@mandystlpd on Twitter

astamand@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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