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Officials Urge Caution During Cold Weather

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated at 5:50 p.m. Monday with information from latest city briefing

  • City streets director Todd Waelterman says it could be Wednesday before the city sees a normal rush hour. He is urging people to shift their commutes by a few minutes tomorrow to avoid overloading streets
  • The condition of arterial roads is hit or miss. Side and residential streets are, according to Mayor Francis Slay, "terrible."
  • The St. Louis fire department says one person died of a heart attack, possibly while shoveling snow or digging out a car. Another person was in full cardiac arrest but was revived.
  • In total, the department had responded to 230 calls for service as of 4 p.m. Monday, including 17 fires. Ten of those calls were for weather-related illnesses, and a majority of those were for cardiac cases.
  • The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department had answered 55 storm-related calls as of 4 p.m., and responded to 36 accidents. There was one fatality - a 20-year-old woman who lost control of her car on Interstate 44 near Jefferson Ave., and was broad-sided by a tractor-trailer.
  • City of St. Louis offices are open tomorrow, though municipal and circuit courts are closed. The city court administrator's office will be open for anyone needing to pay a fine or traffic ticket.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. Monday

A number of school districts have already announced closures for tomorrow, including:

  • Kirkwood
  • Maplewood-Richmond Heights
  • Parkway
  • Ladue
  • Lindbergh
  • Hazelwood
  • Ritenour
  • University City
  • St. Louis Public Schools
  • St. Louis Language Immersion Schools
  • Rockwood

The call center at AAA Missouri expects to handle more than a thousand calls from motorists by midnight tonight. The company has canceled non-emergency towing for that reason. "We can't afford to take a tow truck out of service for that long a period of time," said Mike Right, the vice president of communications.
As of 2:10 p.m., 1,800 Ameren Missouri customers were without power - the vast majority still in Jefferson County. Over in Illinois, 11,300 customers are without electricity, including about 1,400 in St. Clair County.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. Monday

Police are reporting a fatal accident on eastbound I-44 at Jefferson Ave. News reports say at least one vehicle involved was a tractor trailer.

St. Louis police say they issued two citations for animal cruelty so far, with one pending. No animals were seized from owners

As of noon, Ameren Missouri was reporting about 1,700 customers without power statewide. The vast majority are in Jefferson County. In Illinois, 7,000 customers were without power throughout the state. About 2,000 of those are in Madison and St. Clair counties.

Updated at 9:15 a.m. Monday

Governor Pat Quinn has issued a disaster declaration for the state of Illinois, and called out the National Guard to help provide aid. Many of the major interstates in the Metro East are still 100 percent covered with ice and snow.

Updated at 8:35 a.m. Monday

Jennifer Fuller contributed reporting from Carbondale, Ill.

Most schools and government agencies are closed today, following the winter storm that dumped nearly a foot of snow in the region and was followed by bitter cold.

Roads throughout the St. Louis region remain covered to partially covered at this hour. The cold weather means the chemicals used by road crews will take longer to work.

In a briefing last night, St. Louis streets director Todd Waeltermann asked people to stay off the roads unless necessary. "We will not have the lane capacity for a normal rush hour," he said.

The biggest issue now? The temperatures. Wind gusts of 30 mph, will push windchills well below zero through tomorrow.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jayson Goesslin says this kind of frigid weather is rare for St. Louis.

"For some perspective, Lambert Field, our official climate station for the St. Louis area, has not been below zero since Jan. 5, 1999," he said. "So almost 15 years to the day."

Goesslin says exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite in just 10 to 20 minutes in this cold. Anyone who gets stranded in a vehicle faces a life-threatening situation, which is why officials are urging those who do not have to travel to stay home.

The snowstorm forced members of the Southern Illinois University Salukis basketball team to spend the night at a church in Tuscola, Ill., about 25 miles southwest of Champaign, Ill. The team was traveling back from a game against Illinois State when the bus got stuck in the snow. Tow trucks could not get through because the highway was closed.

Updated at 8:10 a.m. Monday

Ameren Missouri says about 2,100 people are without power as the utility works to restore power during bitterly cold weather.

The utility says the hardest hit areas are in Franklin County, where 1,234 customers were without power as of 6 a.m. Monday. Another 657 outages were reported in Jefferson County, with the others spread throughout eastern and southeast Missouri. It has opened its emergency operations center to help with the restoration effort.

  • See Ameren outage data here

Updated at 7:25 a.m. Monday

St. Charles City offices will be closed Monday because of inclement weather. Officials say Monday night's Board of Adjustment meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. has also been canceled.

Updated at 12:45 p.m. Sunday

Mayor Francis Slay has announced that City Hall and the St. Louis municipal courts will be closed tomorrow, Jan. 6.

  • For police, fire and public safety emergencies, call 911
  • For social service assistance, call 211
  • For non-emergency police services, including animal abuse or emergencies, downed wires and trees, call the Citizens' Servce Bureau at 314-622-4800 or the police non-emergency number at 314-231-1212

Our earlier story

St. Louis City and County officials are urging residents to stay out of the cold as temperatures drop to extreme lows on Sunday and Monday.

Credit (UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
St. Louis city and county officials brief the media on emergency response plans for the snowstorm that hit the region on Jan. 5, 2014.

Snowy roads, gusting winds, and bad visibility should keep drivers off the road on Sunday. Then, Sunday night, lows will drop to well below zero.

St. Louis County spokeswoman Pat Washington says the weather requires special vigilance.

"Certainly check on elderly, check on your neighbors, check on people who have health issues. And be sure to take care of your pets," Washington said. "Use precaution and a little bit of common sense, and don’t be outside if you don’t have to be out."

Because lows on Sunday and Monday nights are expected to drop to around -7, St. Louis County has activated two emergency overnight warming centers at St. Vincent’s Community Center and Affton Community Center. St. Louis City has also opened an overnight shelter for the homeless, at the rec center on 12th and Park, through Tuesday night.

Other warming centers, including many county libraries, will be open during the day.

Residents should call 211 to access services. For emergencies, including suspected hypothermia, call 911.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.