ST. LOUIS – A winter storm that blew across the Midwest on Thursday was blamed for at least six traffic deaths in the region, as it dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts and was expected to leave sub-zero temperatures in its wake.
The wintry weather also closed down schools and offices and sent plows and salt trucks working overtime to clear the roads.
In western Indiana, three people driving to a funeral were killed when their car collided with a semitrailer on a state road near the town of Waveland, about 50 miles west of Indianapolis, around 10 a.m. Family members of the victims told WISH-TV that the victims were a 21-year-old man, his 25-year-old sister and their friend.
Three people also died in Oklahoma in separate vehicle crashes early Thursday morning. Authorities said each of the three men appeared to have skidded off the icy roads while driving on highways in western and southern parts of the state.
The fatal accidents happened as the storm blanketed most of Oklahoma with 2 to 4 inches of snow.
Northeastern Kansas had up to 8 inches of snow on Thursday, and Missouri residents saw as much as 15 inches north of St. Louis.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Sieveking said the storm was concentrated on a narrow band over Interstate 70 in the central part of the state. Despite hundreds of trouble calls, including several overturned tractor-trailers, Missouri authorities reported no serious incidents.
"Virtually the entire state is covered in snow," said Sally Oxenhandle of the Missouri Department of Transportation. "We're working to try to get highways cleared as best we can."
As the storm front moved eastward Thursday, meteorologist said the upper Midwest would get an Arctic blast that would send temperatures plummeting to as low as minus-30 in northern Minnesota.
Things should warm up slightly by Saturday, but the weather service warned of another storm sweeping over the region Sunday night and Monday.