One of the worst storms of the century dumped 14 inches of snow on parts of Missouri Monday, shutting down roads and highways and closing the busy St. Louis air traffic hub, further tangling intercity travel already crippled by a strike against Eastern Airlines.
The storm reached from Texas to New York City, dropping a combination of rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow along its path. Drenching rains flooded parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and West Virginia. Bitter cold pushed into the Gulf states, setting record low temperatures in at least 13 cities just two weeks before the start of spring.A line of fierce thunderstorms and tornadoes late Sunday killed at least three people and injured a dozen more in the South. Five tornadoes were reported in Alabama, and three others hit the Atlanta area in Georgia.
The National Weather Service said 14 inches of snow was reported by 6 a.m. CST Monday at Springfield, Mo., and a foot of snow blanketed Rolla, 9 inches hit St. Louis and 8 inches covered Joplin. More snow fell after daybreak.
"It was one of the wort storms of the century for the state (of Missouri)," National Weather Service spokesman Hugh Crowther said.
"The 9 inches of snow at St. Louis was their heaviest snow since March 9th in 1958 and their fourth heaviest of record," Crowther said.
The Missouri Highway Patrol said a number of highways were shut down from southwest into east-central parts of the state. Troopers said Interstate 44 was impassable at several points to all but 4-wheel-drive vehicles.
The Missouri House and Senate canceled Monday's legislative sessions because lawmakers were unable to travel to Jefferson City from their homes throughout the state.
Drenching rains caused isolated flooding in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina, the weather service said.
Coweto County in Georgia appeared to be the hardest hit by Sunday night's violent thunderstorms and tornadoes. At least one person was killed when a tornado hit a mobile home. A tornado leveled an Econo-Lodge motel amd several businesses and homes near Newnan, Ga., but no fatalities were reported.