By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Winter weather made a cameo return to Missouri on Monday, interrupting an unusually mild and dry winter with blustery conditions and snow that slickened roads, caused numerous wrecks and prompted class cancellations in hundreds of school districts.
By afternoon, 1-3 inches of snow had fallen in western and central parts of the state, and wind gusts of up to 20 mph were adding to the problem. Snow was only beginning to fall in the St. Louis area, with the National Weather Service predicting 2-4 inches in the St. Louis region by the time the snow stops late Monday or early Tuesday.
Weather Service meteorologist Ben Miller said this winter is on pace to be the sixth mildest on record for St. Louis, and snowfall has been below average, too.
"This is a rude reminder that we are still in winter," he said.
Winter weather advisories were in place throughout the state Monday, though some were being canceled in the western portions as the snow moved eastward.
The Missouri Department of Transportation said the snow created slick, messy conditions. Several wrecks were reported, including two fatal accidents.
Snow was blamed for a wreck on Highway 79 in Lincoln County that killed Amanda Moon, 44, of Clarksville. The Missouri State Highway Patrol said a Ford Explorer lost control on the snow-slickened roadway and struck Moon's Mazda. The driver of the Explorer, Tricia Sliger, 30, of Foley, suffered minor injuries.
It wasn't immediately clear if the weather was to blame for a fatal wreck on Interstate 64 at Lake St. Louis. Details of that accident have not been released, but the accident forced closure of all westbound lanes for a lengthy period.
The highway patrol and local police agencies said cars, truck and semis slid off roads around Kansas City, St. Joseph and Springfield. Most of the wrecks were fender-benders but one person had to be extracted from a car following a wreck in Columbia.
In the Kansas City area, a number of cars slid off icy Highway 92 west of Tracy, Mo. Clay County authorities also reported a number of slide-offs.
Road crews and police were concerned that slushy roads could re-freeze overnight, creating another round of dangerous driving.
But the rest of the week shapes up as a return to above-average temperatures, with highs in the 40s rising to around 50 degrees by the weekend. Parts of the state could see rain in the middle of the week.
"The snow on the ground certainly isn't going to last long," Miller said.