By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) - A slippery snow made worse by howling wind was blamed for hundreds of accidents in Missouri on Thursday, with the St. Louis area and the northeast region of the state taking the worst of it.
One person died in a one-vehicle wreck on Interstate 55 in Jefferson County, south of St. Louis, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. The victim's name was not immediately released.
Snow began falling in the St. Louis region around 4 a.m. Though not heavy, the snow created a slick sheen of ice, worsened by wind gusts of up to 30 mph.
Patrol Cpl. Jeff Wilson said the patrol's St. Louis-area office had received some 250 calls about accidents and slide-offs by late morning.
"It's a real dry snow," Wilson said. "In some spots the highway may be clear for a mile, then all of a sudden you hit an area where it's covered."
Commutes into the city were taking hours. There were spots along Interstate 70 and Interstate 64 where vehicles were left spinning their wheels, unable to climb small inclines, with traffic backing up behind them. Ditches throughout the region were dotted with cars that slid off the road.
In northeast Missouri, several accidents were reported after snow began falling around 3 a.m. The worst was a six-vehicle wreck on U.S. 61 near Palmyra, about 110 miles north of St. Louis. One person was taken to a hospital after that accident, and southbound U.S. 61 was closed for more than an hour.
WGEM-TV reported that rescue crews had to break windows to rescue passengers in another wreck near Palmyra.
The Missouri Department of Transportation said roads throughout the state, with the exception of the Missouri Bootheel region in the far southeast corner, were at least partly covered with snow, though conditions improved in Kansas City and elsewhere in western Missouri after the snow moved to the east.
Total snow accumulation in most of eastern and northeast Missouri was expected to peak at 3 inches. Forecasters said temperatures would remain in the teens and 20s through Friday. The St. Louis area is expected to see highs in the 40s by the weekend and in the low 50s early next week.