A wave of cold and wintry weather is currently bearing down on the Midwest, but its prelude already hit central Missouri yesterday afternoon — when a dusting of snow and ice turned miles-long stretches of Interstate 44 into a collection of twisted metal.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol and news reports, troopers and emergency personnel responded to more than 100 roadway incidents along the interstate on Sunday. Crashes left dozens stranded and injured. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that one person died in a twelve-car pileup near Lebanon, and eleven were injured in a enormous 30-car pileup near Rolla that required helicopters to airlift two people who had suffered serious injuries.
The most shocking view of the vehicular carnage came from the air, courtesy of a drone piloted by Conway Volunteer Fire Department. The clip below, which sweeps across a roadway tangled with semi trailers and emergency vehicles, has been viewed on Facebook more than a million times.
The scene is no less palatable up close. Photos posted to Facebook on Sunday seemed to show a black pickup truck that had somehow landed on top of a pile of vehicles and semis.
Even more incredibly, the Facebook user who uploaded the photos, Ashley Rozane, writes in the caption that she had been in that very truck. It appears she took the photo from the roof of yet another vehicle in the pileup.
According to announcements by the Missouri Department of Transportation, the affected stretches of I-44 were largely cleared of debris this morning, though the department is encouraging drivers to check the conditions of the highway before trying them yourself.
The region may be in for another evening of dangerous road conditions. In a press conference held earlier today, MODOT officials warned that forecasts show "freezing drizzle and slick surfaces around rush hour this evening" in the St. Louis area.
Wintry mix this afternoon/evening, during the evening rush for some areas. Accum. of a light glaze of ice to 2 inches of snow. #mowx #ilwx pic.twitter.com/7L4lntfPU8— NWS St. Louis (@NWSStLouis) February 5, 2018
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at [email protected]