Icy roads cause hundreds of crashes, cancellations

Icy conditions cause wrecks across...

Icy conditions caused major problems for Friday impacting roads, sidewalks and schools. As of Friday evening, ABC 17 News has heard of more than 270 crashes across mid-Missouri, from Columbia to Jefferson City and the Lake of the Ozarks. Just after 7 p.m. Friday, Highway WW completely shutdown before it turns into Broadway east of Columbia.

Here is a timeline as the winter weather started to move in Friday:

ABC 17 News first got reports of winter weather around 8:30 a.m. Viewers called about freezing rain in Mexico, Moberly, and Sturgeon. That is also when Cole County reported around 9:45 a.m. it had responded to eight crashes in one hour, including five rollovers. Most of the crashes happened south of Brazito on Highway 54.

Just after 11 a.m., crews starting reporting dozens of crashes in Boone County. By 1 p.m., both Columbia police and Boone County deputies had already taken about 50 reports. MoDot also reported one I-70 westbound lane at the connector was shutdown. It also reported heavy back ups on Highway 63 after several rollovers.

ABC 17 News also heard reports of at least a dozen crashes in Callaway County.

About a dozen schools canceled activities Friday. Some schools, including Lincoln University, also closed for the day.

Columbia Public Schools announced around 2 p.m. buses would be late. ABC 17 News has the latest from the district here. At that same time, police announced officers were no longer responding to non-injury crashes and reminded people to report non-emergency crashes online.

MoDOT's traveler information map shows roads were covered across mid-Missouri.

ABC 17 News talked to Columbia crews who will keep about 25 pieces of equipment working overnight Friday. They will start in central neighborhoods and move outwards. The trend will rotate throughout the weekend, meaning they will start with the outer roads during the next round and then move inwards.

MoDot said it has 19 trucks split between Highway 63, I-70, Stadium and Providence, because those roads need the most attention. They started salting around 11 a.m. Trucks even were driving on the shoulder. It expected to have all 21 trucks running by 8 p.m.

Each truck is carrying about 300 pounds of salt / sand mix and MoDot says crews are using more than normal because the roads keep icing over.

Britt Smith at Jefferson City Public Works says conditions around 3:30 p.m. were "mostly clear" in Jefferson City with the possibility of some isolated slick spots. Smith says city crews salted all roads Friday and will have a small crew working Friday night for trouble areas. Jefferson City Public Works also plans to have a full staff on roads before the Saturday morning drive.

Just before 7 p.m., Jefferson City schools gave the all-clear, saying every First Student bus was off the road. The last children were three students waiting for their parents at Callaway Hills.

ABC 17 News talked to Audrain County EMA Director Steve Shaw who said the county had no major crashes or closures, but the roads are in terrible condition. Shaw said MoDot was helping spread cinders at major intersections.

Columbia Regional Airport also closed around 1:30 p.m., canceling both outbound and inbound flights. Incoming Flight 3420 was canceled due to weather in Chicago. Another plane to Columbia from Dallas was diverted to Springfield. Steve Sapp, a spokesperson for the city, tells ABC 17 News the friction level on runways is too low to open the airport at this point. He says the airport does not use salt to thaw runways, but instead uses a different chemical.

By 3:30 p.m., Boone County Joint Communications reported that it has gotten reports of at least 60 crashes. Also around that time, Jefferson City police sent an update saying officers responded to 16 non-injury crashes, 8 injury crashes and 10 stranded motorists. Four of the injuries were rollovers and one involved a vehicle that crossed over Highway 54 at Ellis Boulevard. A total of five people were taken to the hospital, but officials say all of the injuries were minor.

ABC 17 News checked in with Columbia police around 4:05 p.m., who had seen 54 crashes. They said 25 wrecks were still waiting for a response from whatever agency was available.

ABC 17 News reached out to various towing companies in Columbia and Jefferson City about their response. At least one company told us they had wait times approaching nine hours. Others said they had stopped taking calls.

The University of Missouri sent a notice around 4:20 p.m. Friday saying graduation ceremonies will be held as scheduled. Additionally, MU says residential halls will remain open through 11 a.m. Saturday, December 17, to allow students to stay overnight and avoid traveling.

ABC 17 News confirmed troopers also responded to a school bus on Hwy. 135 at Boonesboro around 4:20 p.m. Around 3:45 p.m., the winter weather advisory was extended again until midnight for most of mid-Missouri.

Officials with the Fayette School District in Howard County say one school bus ended up in a ditch, but was able to get back on the road. No one was hurt in the incident. A majority of students made it home, but says they are having all other buses return to the school. The district is notifying parents they will have to pick up their children if they have not made it home yet.

Boone County also warned drivers about several wrecks on Highway UU and Highway 40 east of Columbia.

ABC 17 News checked Ameren, Columbia Water and Light, and Boone Electric Cooperative's outage maps around 3:42pm Friday and all were reporting no power outages in mid-Missouri.

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