Storm dumps snow on US Midwest; at least 5 dead in crashes

Traffic moves along Pacific Street near its intersection with 189th Street as snow falls in Omaha, Nebraska, on Jan. 12, 2019. (Ryan Soderlin/Omaha World-Herald via AP)
Updated 13 January 2019

Storm dumps snow on US Midwest; at least 5 dead in crashes

  • The storm moved into Kansas and Nebraska from the Rockies on Friday, then east into Missouri, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana
  • The storm was expected to spread east into the Mid-Atlantic region by Sunday

ST. LOUIS: A massive winter snowstorm that blanketed several Midwest states was a factor in at least five road deaths on Saturday and forced the grounds crew to scramble to clear snow from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City ahead of the NFL divisional playoff game.
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. 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 (105 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis.
The storm was expected to spread east into the Mid-Atlantic region, with between 3 and 6 inches (7 and 15 centimeters) of snow expected in the Washington area, including parts of northern and central Maryland, by Sunday. Forecasters said heavier snow and higher amounts could fall in mountain areas north of Interstate 64, such as Charlottesville and Staunton, Virginia.
Missouri had gotten the worst of the storm by Saturday, with the National Weather Service reporting more than a foot (30.48 centimeters) of snow Saturday morning in some places around St. Louis and Jefferson City, and more than 18 inches (45 centimeters) in Columbia.
In Kansas City, where the Chiefs were hosting the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, about 8 inches of snow had fallen by early afternoon. The snow had tapered off by the time the game started midafternoon, but stadium crews worked for hours before the game to clear the stadium’s lot, field and seats in anticipation of a full house for the playoff game.
At least five people were killed in crashes on slick roadways in Kansas and Missouri. They included a woman and her 14-year-old stepdaughter whose car slid into the path of a semitrailer in Clinton, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Kansas City, on Friday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said. Another woman died when her car slid on US 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 the patrol. Another crash involving two semitrailers in snowy conditions killed a 41-year-old driver from Mexico, the patrol said.
“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 3,000 calls for help through early Saturday afternoon, including more than 700 crashes and 1,300 stranded vehicles. Illinois State Police said troopers along the Mississippi River across from St. Louis have responded to more than 100 crashes during the storm.
At Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, most flights were canceled 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.


US launches first Taliban air strikes since Afghan ceasefire end

Updated 11 min 11 sec ago

US launches first Taliban air strikes since Afghan ceasefire end

  • Taliban had announced a surprise three-day Eid ceasefire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26
  • The group has argely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since the peace deal was signed

KABUL: The US launched its first air strikes against the Taliban since a rare cease-fire between the insurgents and Afghan forces ended more than a week ago, the US military said Friday.
The two assaults took place on Thursday and Friday in separate provinces in Afghanistan, US forces spokesman Sonny Leggett said on Twitter.
“These were the 1st US airstrikes against (the Taliban) since the start of the Eid cease-fire,” he wrote.
“We reiterate: All sides must reduce violence to allow the peace process to take hold,” he added.
Ten members of the Afghan forces were killed on Friday in a separate attack targeting a Humvee vehicle, the Interior Ministry said, blaming the assault on the Taliban.
There was no immediate comment from the group.
The Taliban announced a surprise three-day cease-fire with Afghan forces that ended on May 26 to mark the Eid Al-Fitr holiday.
There has since been an overall drop in violence across the country, with the Afghan government saying it is ready to start long-delayed peace talks with the insurgents.
The US negotiator with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, left Friday for the region to discuss “the practical next steps necessary for a smooth start to intra-Afghan negotiations,” the State Department said.
He will visit Kabul as well as Qatar, where he regularly meets the Taliban, as well as Pakistan, the historic ally of the insurgents.
Washington signed a landmark deal with the Taliban in February, in which the United States pledged to withdraw all its troops in return for security guarantees in a bid to pave the way for negotiations between warring Afghan sides.
The Taliban have largely refrained from launching major attacks on Afghan cities since the deal was signed, but have continued to target Afghan forces.
Under the agreement, which excluded the Afghan government, Washington and the militants said they would refrain from attacking each other.
However, the Pentagon last month said it would continue to conduct defensive strikes against the Taliban when they attack Afghan partners.
The February deal will see all US and foreign forces quit Afghanistan by mid-2021, nearly 20 years after Washington first invade.
Thousands of US troops have already gone, with a senior US defense official last month putting the number left in the country at approximately 8,500.