A devastating storm dumped 16 inches of snow in Missouri on Monday, then plowed into the Eastern Seaboard. Highways from Texas to New York City were coated with ice.
The National Weather Service said the storm--coming just two weeks before spring begins (on March 20)--was one of the worst to hit Missouri in this century.
Heavy rains caused new flooding in Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia, states hit by torrential rains and floods last month. Along Lake Erie, gale-force winds pushed huge chunks of ice onto shoreline property. Bitterly cold air poured into the Gulf states, where temperatures fell to record lows in at least 13 cities.
From Texas to New York, the storm left a combination of rain, sleet and snow along its path. Snow clogged New York City streets and interrupted flights to and from LaGuardia and Kennedy airports Monday, and forecasters said ground travel became more difficult as the day wore on.
The weather service said 16 inches of snow fell at Lebanon, Mo., on Monday. Marshfield got 15 inches, Springfield had 14 inches, Monett received 13 inches. Snow a foot deep blanketed Rolla, and 11 inches covered St. Louis.
“It was one of the worst storms of the century (in Missouri),” National Weather Service spokesman Hugh Crowther said.
The 11 inches of snow at St. Louis was the third heaviest snowfall on record there, surpassing a 10-inch accumulation on March 9, 1958, Crowther said.
A judge in St. Louis on Monday rejected the city’s request for a one-week postponement of today’s primary elections. Municipal officials had sought the delay on grounds that the snowfall would make travel conditions hazardous for voters.
“We’ve got 16 inches, all right, not to mention the nice little drifts,” said Sandy Burns, a desk clerk at the Lebanon Holiday Inn. “I looked out on the interstate and the traffic is backed up on the off-ramp. All I see are big trucks. They’ve told us here not to get out unless you’ve got four-wheel-drive.”
“It’s terrible around here,” said Sgt. Ralph Robinett at Highway Patrol headquarters in Jefferson City. “If you’ve got some dogs and a sled, you’ll be OK.”
Both houses of Missouri’s Legislature canceled their sessions Monday because lawmakers were unable to drive to Jefferson City.
The storm closed the St. Louis Airport, further complicating intercity travel tangled by the strike against Eastern Airlines. TWA, which handles most of the air traffic into and out of St. Louis, canceled all flights Monday morning and allowed only a few incoming flights to land Monday afternoon.