News Column

St. Louis region hunkers down to ride out another storm

February 5, 2014

By Valerie Schremp Hahn and Margaret Gillerman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Feb. 05 --Perhaps we were remembering the snowstorm that dumped nearly a foot of snow in St. Louis last month, or the snow and ice that paralyzed Atlanta last week. Schools called off classes early in the day Tuesday, commuters made a break for home well before the evening rush hour, and businesses shut their doors early for the night. Perhaps we're weary; perhaps we're smarter. Nevertheless, the snow that moved into the region before noon gave us a good excuse to hunker down. YMCA branches closed early; so did area Wehrenberg Theatres . The St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum , the Arch and the Old Courthouse also locked up. Washington Avenue restaurants and others downtown went dark. In the Grand Center area, a light show still flashed on the outside wall of the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis at nightfall, bringing a splash of color to the otherwise peaceful, mostly white landscape, nearly devoid of pedestrians. Landmark restaurant Crown Candy Kitchen in Old North St. Louis closed early because of the weather -- "and lack of customers!" owner Andy Karandzieff posted on Twitter. The West End Grill & Pub on North Boyle Avenue , however, was hopping, and some other neighborhood favorites in other areas appeared to fare well. "This is going vibrantly," said Dr. Matt German , 54, an infectious disease doctor, who was patronizing the grill. He lives nearby in the old Gaslight Square area. "I walked here," he said. "I can't drive anywhere in my rear-wheel Miata. I barely got home from work." German said his car got stuck on a Kingshighway ramp off of Highway 40 ( Interstate 64 ). "Some nice homeless person helped push my car," German said. Outside Just John , a bar in the Grove neighborhood, bartender Chris Overbay was scraping ice and snow off of customers' cars. "There are about four or five people in there, but it is about what you'd expect with the weather," he said. "I will say the ones who are still there are having fun." Asked if he expected the establishment would close early, Overbay said: "If they do, it probably will be at 1:30" instead of the usual 3 a.m. closing. LESS THAN WAS FEARED The snow fell on the low end of predictions by Tuesday evening. At Lambert-St. Louis International Airport , where dozens of flights were canceled, 1.9 inches of snow was on the ground. Areas of the Metro East had 3 to 4 inches, and St. Charles County saw 4 to 5 inches in places. Parts of Columbia, Mo. , reported 7 inches, and parts of Kansas City had 9. Another wave of snow could come through overnight, putting another inch or 2 on the ground, but that system might stay north of the area, said Ben Miller , meteorologist for the National Weather Service . The high today is expected to be in the mid-20s, with a chance of flurries. "It's not going to be super windy, (but) north to northwest breezes will certainly put a bite in the air," Miller said. Most roads were treated ahead of the storm. Shaunda White of the Missouri Department of Transportation said highways were still covered Tuesday night, and more snow overnight could pose a challenge for the more than 200 plows expected to work through till today. "The morning commute could really be a rough one," she said. "We anticipate (highways) will still be reported as covered in the morning." Joseph Monroe , a spokesman with the Illinois Department of Transportation , said that the roads on his side of the Mississippi River showed a "slight improvement" as the evening went on and the snow lightened up a little bit. Crews planned to work overnight there, too. "We expect to be in decent shape for the morning rush," Monroe said. "By no means will it be perfect, but it will be better than it was." St. Louis streets director Todd Waelterman said the city roads were spotty Tuesday night, with only some lane lines showing through. A fresh plow crew was due in at midnight. "As long as nothing major changes in the forecast, we should be back to normal in the morning," he said. Even the early snow made roads hazardous in places. There were no reports of fatalities, but a crash involving an overturned tractor-trailer closed westbound Interstate 70 near Foristell early Tuesday afternoon. Crews also attended to a tractor-trailer that slid off the road along northbound Interstate 270 near Clayton Road . Despite commuters leaving early from work, rush hour traffic remained slow. Metro encouraged commuters to take MetroLink to work this morning. SCHOOL CLOSINGS By late afternoon, a number of area schools and districts had already called off classes for today. One district, Lincoln County R-3, decided to have a little fun with its announcement. Troy Middle School Assistant Principal Buddy Entwistle channeled his inner Vanilla Ice. "All right stop, look out your window and listen," he chanted in a song the district uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday evening. "Snow is back for a brand new edition. Will it ever stop, I don't know, but Lincoln County R-3 will be closed." For any other weary school administrators looking for a chance to get creative with their next cancellation, don't fret: There's a 30 percent chance of more snow over the weekend. ___ (c)2014 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

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