Massive snowstorm blankets US Midwest

A winter storm has dumped 17cm to 30cm of snow in the St. Louis area.
A winter storm has dumped 17cm to 30cm of snow in the St. Louis area.

A massive winter snowstorm has blanketed most of Missouri and several other Midwest US states, snarling traffic and contributing to at least five road deaths.

The storm moved into Kansas and Nebraska from the Rockies on Friday, then east into Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, covering roads and making driving dangerous.

A highway near St Louis was blocked for several hours on 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 105 km northwest of Indianapolis.

The storm was expected to spread east into the Mid-Atlantic region, with between 7 and 15 cm of snow expected in the Washington area, including parts of northern and central Maryland, by Sunday.

Missouri had gotten the worst of the storm by Saturday, with the National Weather Service reporting more than 30 cm of snow Saturday morning in some places around St. Louis and Jefferson City.

"We're anticipating still more snow through today, so we're asking motorists to stay home until the roads are cleared," said Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt Collin Stosberg, stationed in suburban Kansas City.

"If you do have to get out on the road, we're asking you to do three things: Have your cellphone fully charged, wear your seat belt and slow your speed for the conditions."

Missouri troopers responded to more than 3000 calls for help through early Saturday afternoon, including more than 700 crashes and 1,300 stranded vehicles.

Australian Associated Press