Mother Nature’s Super Sunday

Posted: 2013/02/03 in accident, MoDOT, safety, Weather

The weather forecasters were predicting light snow of up to 1 inch for last night into early Sunday morning hours.  The snow came but the projected amount turned out to be 2″ to 4″ – and most of that fell in the corridor.  The past few weeks there been posts on this site warning people to take care during winter weather events for one good reason: it doesn’t take much to cause a big problem.  The problem was not when the snow was falling itself – it happened when the majority of people was asleep at the time and traffic was light during the time.  Despite the lack of salt trucks during the storm itself and the snow covered roadways there were few, if any, incidents. (Note: All the IDOT cameras are still down at this time.)

The incidents don’t start until the snow tapers off and the crews try to clear the roadways.  The first happens around 02:30 when the live feed camera for the Riverview and 270 area catches a vehicle spin out while trying to exit westbound at the Riverview exit.  This one happens so fast that the camera cannot be paused to save a still as the vehicle moves out of the camera view – and eventually recovers.

After a few quiet hours the real action starts as daylight occurs.  Had the snow came Sunday night into Monday morning, you are talking a very dicey and horrible commute in the making as the heaviest traffic tends to happen between 06:00 to 08:00 on a normal weekday morning.  For a three hour period starting at 06:30 the twitter feed and live feed cameras start revealing multiple incidents between the River Bridge and Route 367 – at least 7 separate incidents.

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The first two photos came shortly between 07:00.  Apparently one vehicle ran off the Riverview exit off-ramp into some trees, and another ran off the Lilac exit.  The camera does not get a good view of either incident, but the morning was just getting started.

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As soon as MoDOT points the camera away from the latter of the two incidents, the live feed camera catches a minivan slide off the roadway and into the median at 07:42.  It was around this time MoDOT posted an advisory speed of 35 MPH for the mainline lanes and already had at least three separate tweets regarding incidents on this section of 270 posted to @StLouisTraffic.  This van is still in the median as of 10:30.

At 08:11, a black pickup truck joins the van in the median, sliding on that same black ice – right after a MoDOT salt truck passed by the area.  This truck narrowly misses the van as it comes to rest in the median.  Another pickup truck comes by at 08:50 and pulls the black truck out of the ditch – and both leave the scene.

The area between Bellefontaine Road and Route 367 where one of the numerous rolling hills on the mainline is located fared no better.  KMOV posted on their Facebook feed of a overturned vehicle near the interchange – and a second vehicle will later join that vehicle in the ditch between 07:53 to 09:09 based later TV news helicopter footage.  Traffic was briefly stopped at Lilac to allow the removal of at least one vehicle shortly after 09:00 for a few minutes before going back to normal.  The final tally during the winter weather event was at least 7, maybe 8 incidents between 367 and the river bridge – the exact count will not be confirmed until MoDOT releases their February incident scorecard sometime in mid-March.

Throughout the morning people sent tweets commenting on how horrible the road conditions were several hours after the snow had tapered off.  Like that one storm last year, MoDOT is the target of most of the twitter comments.   Some of the comments have strong words to them. (Only the one decent tweet from a Post-Dispatch employee has been retweeted – most of the problems on this corridor happened on the Missouri side of the river.)

In unrelated news, there is a potential that the Monday morning drive will be heavier than normal:  there is a full weekend closure of Highway 40 in place near downtown and the winter weather may set the projected 03:00 Monday reopening behind schedule.  Please stay tuned to the local media and plan on additional time.  Refreezing and black ice may be a concern tonight into tomorrow morning so care needs to be taken.  Update: Highway 40 reopened shortly after 20:00 Sunday night.

UPDATE 12:45: The van that went in the ditch just east of the Lilac exit has been removed from the scene.  Traffic advisory speeds is back up to 55 MPH and should return to normal soon.  No new updates until tonight if necessary – getting much needed sleep.

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Comments
  1. […] couple years ago, there was a quick hit of snow that caused several incidents on that section between Riverview and Route 367 – the timing of […]

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