Power outages, fog causing problems in Missouri

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Much of northern Missouri was slip-sliding through another day of freezing rain Tuesday, weather that continued to cause travel delays, fender-benders and power outages.

More than 100,000 people around the state were still without power. Travelers were still dealing with slick roads in some cases, fog in others, and flights were delayed and canceled in both Kansas City and St. Louis.

In northwest Missouri, Aquila reported about 54,000 customers still were without power Tuesday morning. Ameren Corp. had 26,000 customers still without power -- mostly in metropolitan St. Louis and in mid-Missouri. In southwest Missouri, about 45,000 customers of Empire District Electric lacked electricity, mostly in the Joplin, Neosho and Webb City areas. And about 25,000 Kansas City Power & Light customers were without power, a number that included some customers in Kansas.

In northeast Missouri, more freezing rain was falling on top of the more than 2 inches of freezing rain and sleet that had already accumulated, said Benjamin Sipprell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in suburban St. Louis.

Sipprell said ice storm warnings remained in effect for much of the state's northern tier. The forecast called for temperatures there to hover around freezing on Tuesday before dipping into the mid- to upper-20s. With precipitation likely, that meant more problems, he said.

Towns like Bowling Green and Palmyra in northeast Missouri were reporting new ice accumulations Tuesday morning, Sipprell said. The freezing rain to the north could continue into Wednesday before the region finally gets a break.

"We're anticipating by Wednesday night or Thursday morning it'll finally clear out and we'll finally see the sun again for the first time in six days," Sipprell said.

In Kansas City, the morning drive was much improved over a day earlier. Still, many Kansas City-area schools canceled classes for a second straight day.

Kansas City International Airport canceled more than 90 flights Tuesday morning. The tarmac was clear, but spokesman Joe McBride said the large number of cancelations was likely the result of airlines looking at weather conditions across their entire system.

Fog was the bigger problem in St. Louis, causing delays and cancellations at Lambert Airport. Temperatures in St. Louis were expected to reach the 40s Tuesday afternoon before another chance of freezing rain overnight and into Wednesday morning.

The ice has taken a toll. Dozens of fender-benders have been reported in the St. Louis area since the weekend, and emergency rooms have been busy treating more than 100 slip-and-fall injuries -- mostly fractured ankles and wrists and cuts and bruises from falls on slippery sidewalks, stairs and driveways.

At least three deaths in Missouri were blamed on bad weather since the weekend.

A 92-year-old man was killed when a limb hit him in the head Monday as he tried to cut down an ice-damaged tree outside his home near Carl Junction, north of Joplin, Jasper County Coroner Jerry Neil said. The man's name was being withheld pending notification of family.

A 56-year-old Hartsburg man was killed Sunday while cutting down a tree near his house when a different tree buckled from the ice and fell on him. He was identified as Ralph Struchtemeyer, a former Holts Summit alderman.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a motorist was killed Sunday evening after he got out of his vehicle to check on an accident on U.S. 63 north of Jefferson City and was struck by another vehicle that skidded on an ice-covered bridge. The patrol on Monday identified the deceased man as Neilson Rudd, 22, of the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood.

Gov. Matt Blunt, who declared a state of emergency Sunday, said 70 Missouri National Guard members had been deployed in Barton County at the request of local officials to help with power generation and to make "wellness checks" on residents stuck at home without electricity.

An additional 50 Guard members were being placed on standby in Columbia to head in any direction in case another round of storms inflicts damage, Blunt said.

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