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Blustery Weather Hits Southern Ill., and Southeast Mo.

(Jennifer Fuller/WSIU)

A winter storm is hitting southern Illinois, leaving roads covered in snow and ice and prompting officials to urge residents to stay home if they can.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for southern Illinois and parts of Indiana and Kentucky until noon today. The forecast calls for 7 to 11 inches of snow. The region is also getting hit with wind gusts that could reach 45 miles per hour. The National Weather Service says the storm could lead to white-out conditions and may reduce visibility on southern Illinois roads to under a quarter mile at times.

Meanwhile, officials are discouraging travel in southeastern Missouri until crews clear the roads from what was expected to be heavy snowfall with blizzard conditions. The National Weather Service placed 13 counties from the Bootheel to north of Cape Girardeau under a blizzard warning Tuesday night to midday Wednesday. 

The Missouri Department of Transportation issued a travel advisory late Tuesday afternoon urging motorists to stay off the roads. State maintenance engineer Beth Wright said whiteout conditions would make driving dangerous and complicate road-clearing efforts. Plows from the St. Louis region, which saw barely any snow, headed south to help with those efforts.

According to the Southeast Missourian, six inches of snow had fallen in Cape Girardeau before 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Follow Julie Bierach on Twitter: @jbierach