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Snow Blasts Southern Missouri

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) _ A major snowstorm dumped up to 5 inches in far southwestern and south-central Missouri and snarled traffic in St. Louis, keeping road crews busy Thursday and closing schools early as more was forecast into the night.

Sheriff's departments and the Missouri State Highway Patrol in southwest Missouri reported multiple cases of vehicles sliding off wet or snowy roads but no serious injuries.

The snow began falling late morning in St. Louis and didn't take long to cause problems. Traffic crawled on the region's roadways by afternoon rush hour, even though accumulations were relatively minimal.

Snow was blamed for scattered accidents, including two separate crashes that closed a two-mile stretch of Interstate 64 in St. Charles County in both directions.

The roadway was reopened about 2 p.m., but traffic was backed up for miles.

One person was taken to a hospital.

The Highway Patrol said most of the eastern Missouri accidents were in St. Charles, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

Several St. Louis area schools called off classes for Friday, with the region expected to get up to 8 inches of snow.

Meanwhile, dozens of school districts in southwest Missouri, including Springfield, decided to dismiss classes early Thursday.

The first band of snow arrived from the west in the morning, dumping up to 5 inches in some areas along the Arkansas-state line but only dusting areas farther north, including Springfield.

The National Weather service expected up to 8 inches by early Friday in far southwest and southeast Missouri and 3 to 4 inches farther north.

``It's pretty much been snowing nonstop all day,'' said Sheriff's Deputy John Wynn in McDonald County.

Forecasters said the storm could bring local amounts up to 10 inches as it moves from west to east across much of southern Missouri.

``Our crews are keeping ahead of it,'' said Angela Eden with the Springfield district of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Eden said drivers should slow down and treat any wet-looking pavement as potentially slick, especially on bridges and overpasses.

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