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U.S. midsection grapples with pesky ice storm; more on way

Jan. 14, 2017 Updated Sat., Jan. 14, 2017 at 10:30 p.m.

A Missouri Department of Transportation salt truck spreads ice melt on Interstate 55 as coated tree branches sway overhead as seen from the Main Street bridge on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 in Festus, Mo. (Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
A Missouri Department of Transportation salt truck spreads ice melt on Interstate 55 as coated tree branches sway overhead as seen from the Main Street bridge on Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 in Festus, Mo. (Robert Cohen / St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
By Jim Suhr Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Parts of the central U.S. grappled Saturday with a second day of road-glazing ice and braced for more of the treacherous, below-freezing weather expected to close out the holiday weekend.

The storm created travel headaches for many people who opted to go out despite pleas by authorities to stay put. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said Interstate 40 was closed in two places in western portions of the state because of wrecks, including the jackknifing of several semitrailers in icy conditions in Caddo County. A 45-year-old Oklahoma City man died early Saturday after his semitrailer struck two others on icy I-40 in Custer County and then was hit by a car. The patrol is investigating the wreck.

Saturday’s storm followed another a day earlier that dumped freezing rain from Oklahoma to southern Illinois. The National Weather Service said swaths of Kansas and Missouri – both broadly still under ice storm warnings Saturday – could see a third wave of sleet and freezing drizzle Sunday. Complicating matters were temperatures forecast in many cases to remain near or below freezing.

Ice buildups of one-quarter to slightly less than a half inch were expected late Saturday and Sunday morning from southeastern Kansas to central Missouri. Lesser ice accumulations were forecast for Saturday around St. Louis.

State troopers in Missouri and other affected states were pressing motorists to limit travel to only necessary outings, allowing road crews the space to treat the slippery mess. Many appeared to heed that advice, drawing kudos from the Missouri Department of Transportation, which scrambled around the clock to mitigate the glazed roads.

“We are keeping up with the changing conditions, but it is a continual battle,” said Becky Allmeroth, a state maintenance engineer for the department. She called ice “the most difficult storm to fight.”

“The precipitation is coming in waves, and we have to apply more salt,” she said.

A slick roadway was suspected in a Missouri wreck Friday that killed a 33-year-old woman whose sport utility vehicle slid on an icy freeway overpass south of St. Louis and struck several trees. Later Friday, icy conditions were blamed for a pileup involving more than 20 vehicles in Wichita, Kansas, but no serious injuries were reported.

The storm’s onset prompted the NFL to move the AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and host team the Kansas Chiefs to Sunday evening to allow more time to treat roads and parking lots at Arrowhead Stadium. The game was scheduled to kick off at noon but now will start at 7:20 p.m.

Many residents had prepared for the storms by stocking up on bread, milk and other necessities and by buying flashlights and generators to have on hand in case power gets knocked out.

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