UPDATE 14:00 12/6/17:  The victim died from her injuries Tuesday evening with family by her side.  The family is from out of state and has requested donations to fly her body back home.  Our hearts and prayers are with the family at this time.

Around 20:00 last night, someone in a vehicle allegedly opened fire at another vehicle on westbound 270 between 367 and Old Halls Ferry, causing emergency crews to close all westbound lanes and multiple ramps at the 270/367 interchange for approximately two hours.

If you had noticed, the admins broke the news within minutes of the incident because on a normal basis 367 is the location where the traffic from the Clark Bridge commute and the normal 270 commute starts to mingle. Had an incident happened during a peak period, the backup would easily went into Illinois. This incident caused westbound 270 to back up to Bellefontaine, and caused major delays on the ramp to Dunn Road from northbound 367 as Dunn Road remained open and a lot of people went straight for that option. Throughout the livestream the detour route that was emphasized was Parker Road as it will get you back to Old Halls Ferry and New Florissant, where you can then return to 270.

This incident has summoned the Major Case Squad

No other details have been revealed since the lanes reopened.

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In the wee hours of Monday morning when the admins posted the fog risk threat for this week, there was more than enough factors in play to put Thursday morning at HIGH risk:  calm winds, a warm day, cool night, and most importantly temperatures expected to be near the freezing point.  After one of the admins got off work early Thursday morning around 02:00 – the fears were confirmed and by 04:30 the live feed cameras were only confirming what could been happening:

As the morning lows dipped to 28 in Alton the admins made at least two posts on Facebook warning that river fog was present with the freezing temperatures and extreme caution was to be taken.  If that was not enough, Laura Hettiger was running her mouth at least two times during the 05:00 hour on Channel 4 to be aware of the fog threat.  One of the admins went to bed before 06:00 and the other was on the way to work after 05:30 there was not a lot of monitoring on either the Facebook or Twitter accounts.

At or around 06:50, the first of the multiple incidents that happened in a 20 to 25 minute time window happened westbound west of 367 and a second happened eastbound between Lilac and Riverview:

Within 10 minutes this was being reported:

By the way, even around 06:45 there was still river fog in the area of the river bridge by a TV reporter that was making a trip across while en route to an unrelated story:

It was clear that the freezing river fog caused a few slick spots during the AM crunch time and as soon one happened, all shit broke loose.

The river bridge one was in a bad spot too causing crews from Mitchell Fire Department to walk to the scene to get to the people. Luckily only minor injuries were reported in this ordeal.

There were some live videos as well

In the end, the westbound lanes at the bridge were closed for over an hour and it takes at least 90 minutes before things return to normal. The average delay was at least 60 to 90 minutes.  This morning should reinforce why river fog under certain circumstances can lead to the big incidents and all three incidents were consistent with people allegedly driving too fast for the conditions.  In fact, we are approaching the 40th anniversary of one of the first epic fails that happened on this section of 270 and it happened on a morning with freezing temperatures and conditions favorable for river fog.  What happened this morning was minor compared to what happened on the morning of November 12, 1977, and back in the late 1970s there was not much of a morning news scene, no internet, no social media, and everyone relied on the evening newspaper to get their gossip and CB radio for traffic conditions.

We are approaching the winter months, which can mean “anything goes” with Mother Nature – and that includes the return of severe weather potential.  While 2017 has been a quiet year on the severe weather front, the concern is the cold front that is projected to move through the afternoon hours.  The NWS has labeled this area at an enhanced risk, but we are on the fringes of that threat.

Weather often leads to infamous events happening here, especially between the months of November through May.  The biggest epic fails often happen during this time of the year – and more often than not on mornings that there is very favorable conditions of river fog.  In fact, in a few days we are approaching the 40th anniversary of one of the first epic fails that ever happened – on a very cold morning where conditions for river fog was allegedly favorable.

https://www.newspapers.com/image/139122624

Weather permitting, off-peak lane closures on the river bridge will occur from 09:00 to 15:00 daily from 9/18 to 9/21, as IDOT crews are expected to do more patching.  While delays are expected as soon as you cross the canal bridge, do not be surprised to see delays stretch towards 255.  Expect reduced speed limits, higher police presence enforcing the speed limits, and delays.

On the afternoon of 9/16, expect at least 1000 motorcycles to make their way on WB 270 from Route 3 through North County as the infamous annual ride known as Ride of the Century makes its return.  The organizers keep the exact route details under wraps but almost every year that this event is run they have used this section of 270. (2013 was an exception due to the weather.)

If you are wondering why this post has to be made every year, it is not about giving these people attention – its about warning the people that use this section of 270 about the illegal acts that they may engage. We have not seen any sideshows or rolling freeway shutdowns up here in the past years, but we have seen incidents and a lot of wheelies.

Speaking of incidents, this one last year still grinds the gears a bit:

This video is from two years ago

What you should expect:

  1. Rolling mainline closures anytime between 13:00 to 17:00 on Saturday.  The exact time they cross will be random but in past years it was between 14:30 to 15:30.
  2. People involved in the ride will be making poor decisions.  With at least 1000 motorcycles involved there will always be “that guy” moments.
  3. Professional stunt bike riders will likely be in the front of the pack.
  4. Heavier than normal police enforcement – Saturday has been a major speed trap enforcement day on 270 in recent weeks – don’t be surprised to see bears in the air.

If you get caught up, give these riders the right of way but do not pull over.  Most of these riders will be making use of the shoulders.

Weather permitting, one lane of EB 270 will be closed at the river bridge from 09:00 to 12:00 for IDOT crews to conduct bridge inspections tomorrow. The crews will also be at the Clark Bridge but that will be much later in the day. Expect delays to Lilac.

This comes on the heels of last week unannounced EB 270 lane closure that lasted most of the off peak period.

The following day the evening peak period saw a lot of crews near the canal bridge – while the alleged incident was westbound the outcome was very tragic. Not knowing all the details and respecting privacy the admins are not going into the details.  Prayers are with the family at the time.

The rough week was topped off with an peak hour incident on Friday morning on the westbound lanes west of Riverview that took 40 minutes to clear.

Fog risk forecast returning

Posted: 2017/09/11 in Weather
Tags:

As the colder weather months approaches, the fog risk forecast is returning as the prime time for river fog and eventually inversion type fog will return.  In recent weeks there have been posts on Facebook on nights where there were favorable conditions for such development, and almost every morning those posts were confirmed.

The reason why risk forecasts are posted from September through May starting last season was a good reason: river fog during the fall, winter, and spring months has the potential for a AM peak disaster.  The risk falls under a few categories and other weather conditions may play in a role in the risk.

Low – the conditions for fog to develop are not favorable

Medium – favorable conditions exist but not likely to cause the NWS to release Dense Fog Advisories

High – favorable conditions exist AND the NWS is likely to release Dense Fog Advisories

 

Fog risk forecasts are only posted via the Facebook page, likely on Sunday evenings.  The forecasts for early week are more likely going to be accurate than late in the week so there will be time that Thursday/Friday risk will be deferred.  Unless otherwise noted the risk will only be valid from 05:00 to 09:00.

Why is River Fog so dangerous?

Some of the biggest epic fails during the fall and winter months came on mornings that conditions for river fog to develop were favorable – which is warm days, cool nights, and a lack of a wind.  River fog only develops late at night or first thing in the morning around or near sunrise, and is much more likely to develop over or near a body of water.  It tends to dissipate late in the morning. From October through April, the temperatures in the morning can flirt with the freezing point and that can turn fog into ice.

What is Inversion Fog?

Inversion fog is more likely to occur during this time of the year and it can occur at any time of the day.  It is essentially warm air trapped over cold ground with a lack of wind.  The main difference is that it can last 24/7 and it is not limited to the river valleys.  It too can occur when the temperatures are at or below freezing.  Unlike River Fog that can happen on a sunny day, inversion fog usually occurs on a cloudy or rainy day, but there are times it can occur on a clear day when there is snow on the ground.

While the potential of the heavy traffic from this weather event has been ignored by the admins due to other more pressing reasons (thanks to IDOT that decides to load the entire month of August so far with a lot of lane closures on 270 including the weekend before the eclipse), the fact this is such a rare weather event people will be making the trip to this area.

While this section of 270 is essentially on the fringes of totality (it will not be at 100% path but it has to be very close to 99%), its clear that IDOT and MoDOT been posting stuff on social media.

Find a safe spot to pull over and wait out the event.  Don’t forget the appropriate glasses.  Most of the influx of traffic the day before has been near the SIU campus for an unrelated reason.  Most of the traffic congestion is right before and shortly after the eclipse begins, as the majority of the people from out of state have opted to use campgrounds.  Still there will be heavier than normal traffic for the time of day, especially in South County where that section of 270 is in the path of 100%.


IDOT has confirmed via a press release to what the construction VMS boards were advertising yesterday: a full WB 270 closure from Route 3 to the I-55 interchange in Troy. Crews from Micro-Surfacing Contractors LLC will be out to do the westbound half of 270, which is known to be in even worse shape than eastbound, and the consequences of missing the 05:00 Monday deadline is even worse than eastbound.  (HINT:  crews barely got EB 270 open in time)  The westbound closures are expected to have a much more disruptive effect than eastbound for various reasons, some which are obvious and some of it because of other road work on alternative routes that can come back and haunt IDOT in the event of an epic fail eastbound.

While access to the bridges do remain, it must be done via the back road system:

270MadCoAlts

The best alternate route is New Poag Road, and detours will be marked along 255 and New Poag Road.  The better detour is using a combination of Route 3, New Poag Road, 255, and Route 162, as IDOT has been bold enough to start construction projects on 55/70 and that includes a closure of 55/70 EB from 64 to 255 this weekend as well.  (There is closures on Route 143 just east of Route 3 that IDOT boldly planned a 270 EB detour route but made an about face the morning of the 11th.)

IMG_2786

Keep in mind this closure takes place right before the solar eclipse on August 21, and while the admins have not made a lot of mention about it because this area is largely on the fringes of that viewing area, it is certain that heavier than normal traffic may occur between 09:00 to 16:00.  A separate post regarding the eclipse will be made on Sunday, however, as the admins see the weekend closures as a larger priority.

IDOT has announced off-peak lane closures for westbound 270 at the river bridge on various dates in the next week from 09:00 to 15:00, weather permitting.

The patches that had failed or about to fail.

The bottom line is to expect delays starting at the canal bridge and a reduced speed limit that will be enforced by the ISP.