Winter storm blamed for five deaths in Mid-Atlantic region
A massive winter snowstorm that blanketed the Midwest and was blamed for at least five road deaths rolled over the Mid-Atlantic area on Sunday, paralyzing the District of Columbia and surrounding areas.
Overall, more than 35 million people were under winter weather alerts over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
The biggest storm of 2019 dumped more than a foot of snow across Colorado, Nebraska, Illinois and Iowa. Parts of Kansas and Missouri recorded up to 20 inches of snow, those state’s highest snowfall totals in years.
The storm surged out of the Midwest on Friday and caused more more than 800 snow-related crashes in Missouri, where the state Highway patrol reported a total of 57 injured motorists and four dead.
In Chicago, Illinois State Police Trooper Christopher Lambert died after being struck while standing outside his patrol car Saturday to protect the scene of a three-car crash caused by the snowy conditions.
“Trooper Lambert deliberately placed his vehicle in a position to protect the lives of the victims of the previous crash, and took on the danger himself,” State Police Director Leo P. Schmitz said in a statement about the five-year police veteran. “He will be remembered for his dedication to the Illinois State Police and for giving the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve the citizens of Illinois.”
Sleet, ice and snow knocked out power lines, forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled and jammed roadways in the District of Columbia, central Maryland and Northern and Northwest Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Saturday in anticipation of the storm.
On Friday, the storm moved into Kansas and Nebraska from the Rockies, then roared east into Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, covering roads and making driving dangerous.
Damage and delays were everywhere. Part of Interstate 44 near St. Louis was blocked for several hours Saturday, and at one point, the Missouri State Highway Patrol warned of traffic delays as long as eight hours.
In Indiana, the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 were closed for hours Saturday after a semitruck jackknifed along the snow-covered highway near Lafayette, about 65 miles northwest of Indianapolis.
Missouri troopers responded to more than 3,000 calls for help through early Saturday afternoon, including more than 700 crashes and 1,300 stranded vehicles.
In Kansas and Missouri, at least five people were killed in crashes on slick roadways, including a woman and her 14-year-old stepdaughter whose car slid into the path of a tractor trailer Friday in Clinton, about 80 miles southeast of Kansas City, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.
Another woman died when her car slid on U.S. 24 in northern Missouri and was hit by an oncoming SUV.
In Kansas, a 62-year-old man died after his pickup truck skidded on the Kansas Turnpike and hit a concrete barrier, according to police. Another crash involving two tractor trailers in snowy conditions killed a 41-year-old driver from Mexico, the patrol said.
Illinois State Police said troopers along the Mississippi River across from St. Louis had responded to more than 100 crashes during the storm.
At St. Louis Lambert International Airport, most flights were cancelled or delayed.
In central Missouri, officials said about 12,000 households and businesses were without power in Columbia and the surrounding area at one point.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.