The second major snowfall of the season dropped a slushy, slippery mess on Cape Girardeau County roads Friday, causing several car accidents throughout the day and emptying area schools early.
But the outlook for today indicates safer driving conditions, with sunny skies and temperatures in the high 40s, which should melt any snow left over from about half an inch of precipitation that fell in the area Friday.
Most motorists used defensive driving Friday to get safely to their destinations during the daylong snowfall.
"I have kids, so I drive slow," said Lorrie Sterling, 24, of Cape Girardeau. "There have been a few people behind me honking, but I figure they'll be OK and get to where they are going eventually."
Some of those who didn't follow Sterling's rule of thumb found themselves in fender benders or worse. A rollover on Interstate 55 near the Oak Ridge exit stranded two Southeast Missouri State University students on their way home to the St. Louis area. They were uninjured.
A one-car accident on Route D about four miles north of Jackson sent two men to St. Francis Medical Center with serious injuries, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Driver David Ligons, 47, of Oak Ridge and Tab Rapp, 38, of Scott City were southbound when their car ran off the right side of the road and overturned into a creek bed.
Throughout Friday, the patrol responded to nearly 70 accidents across Southeast Missouri, said chief operator Shannon McGowan. About six of the accidents included injuries.
Motorist Phil Parette, 50, of Cape Girardeau, left his job early in an attempt to make it home safely.
"I got new tires yesterday in anticipation of inclement weather," he said. "People should just be aware of other drivers and drive defensively."
The Jackson Police Department responded to seven accidents by mid-evening Friday. One injury was reported.
Cape Girardeau police responded to 16 accidents across the city on Friday.
School district officials across Southeast Missouri looked to the skies, examined the roads and then sent thousands of students home in the early afternoon. Mark Bowles, Cape Girardeau School District superintendent, said it's a difficult decision. He and neighboring Jackson School District officials trade information and work with local law enforcement to make the call.
"That's what you agonize over because you know, no matter what media you call or how well you canvass, there will be people who don't get that message," Bowles said. "Then what's more dangerous: a traffic fatality or a child gets off the bus at home and there's nobody waiting?"
Both districts send home information at the first of the school year telling parents to tune into television or radio stations or call the district office during inclement weather for information on early dismissal. Schools help make arrangements for children whose parents can't get them.