Saturday, December 22, 2007

Strong Storms Batter Plains, Head Into Midwest

Some places in Oklahoma still don't have full power back on after the recent ice storm. The wind is gusting at more than 30 miles per hour, causing whiteout conditions in some areas. In a strange twist, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported that a multi-vehicle pileup included an ambulance with victims from a prior accident.

A strong snowstorm that cut visibility nearly to zero in some places as it rolled across the Plains on Saturday caused numerous vehicle pileups and forced authorities to close portions of several major highways.

Dozens of vehicles were involved in a pileup on Interstate 29 in western Missouri, authorities said. Sections of some Oklahoma highways were closed because of whiteout conditions.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol said preliminary reports indicated 20 to 40 vehicles, including three tractor-trailer rigs, were involved in the early afternoon chain-reaction wreck on Interstate 29 at St. Joseph.

Multiple ambulances were sent to the scene but there was no immediate indication how many people were injured or if there were any fatalities. Heartland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph said it was treating several people from the accident though none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

The patrol closed about 100 miles of I-29 from Dearborn, which is between Kansas City and St. Joseph, to the Iowa state line. The storm blew locally heavy snow across Oklahoma, eastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri, plus parts of Nebraska and Iowa.

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