ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – State law enforcement agencies and transportation departments in Missouri and Illinois have issued winter weather travel advisories ahead of the expected ice storm.
An approaching frontal system drops through St. Louis on Thursday. Fox 2/KPLR 11 meteorologists are expecting scattered rain showers and plummeting temperatures. With colder, below freezing temps returning Thursday night, the concern quickly becomes significant ice accumulation due to freezing rain. This storm system has a nice amount of moisture to work with, as much colder air settles in. That is bad combination this time of year.
Scattered, freezing rain is in the forecast Friday and into Saturday. Some slightly warmer air will work in to wrap the weekend. So Sunday we’re mainly talking just rain with temps slightly above freezing. With this setup, a Winter Storm Watch goes into effect late Thursday night to Saturday afternoon for Metro St. Louis. Areas to the south and southwest of the city may see up to a quarter-inch of ice.
The Friday morning commute will be affected by icy road conditions across the bi-state region.
The Missouri Department of Transportation will dispatch crews ahead of the storm to treat the roads, highways, and interstates with a mixture of chemicals as well as salt brine.
Meanwhile, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has said abandoned vehicles on highways and interstates will be towed as they are impeding the flow of traffic and drivers should retrieve their vehicles off of road shoulders as soon as possible.
“As soon as this begins to hit … we are going to start towing vehicles that are on the shoulders,” said Cpl. Justin Wheatley, Missouri State Highway Patrol.
The St. Louis City Street Department will be monitoring the weather very closely to determine how to get ahead of the storm.
“We are going to have to take a look at what those options are and what the storm is comprised of; that helps us determine what course of action we take here, whether we can pre-treat or wait and treat it as it comes down or if the pavement temps will be warm enough to knock it out and make it a non-event,” said Deanna Venker, St. Louis City Street Department.
Both the Illinois State Police and MoDOT are asking people to stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary.
A big concern for the Illinois State Police is deicing the black ice and people driving too fast. Commuters are warned to reduce their speed on any roadways. If, for example, the posted speed on an interstate 55 or 65 miles per hour, drivers should drop their speed to about 25 to 30 miles per hour, state police said.
Trooper Calvin Dye Jr., Illinois State Police, said many weather-related accidents are rear-end or side-swiping collisions. It’s recommended you keep a distance of two and a half to three car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you.
More information: Winter Storm Watch issued from Thursday night into Saturday afternoon