Approximately four inches of snow blanketed Nodaway County early Wednesday, falling as a dry powder but disguising treacherous sheets of ice that were more than many motorists could handle on their way to work.
In Maryville, city snowplows rolled out early, and major routes were clear as the business day began, but highway conditions remained hazardous and travel advisories were in effect throughout the region.
"It has been pretty horrible this morning. There is a nice layer of ice beneath everything," said Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White, who was himself involved in a three-car, chain-reaction collision on the Highway 71 bypass about a half-mile north of the Highway 71/Business 71 interchange.
White said he was southbound in a privately owned pickup truck equipped with a snow blade when he was rear-ended by another vehicle that had itself been struck from behind.
The morning accident, which was worked by Maryville Public Safety officers, caused relatively little damage, though White said two people were transported to St. Francis Hospital with possible minor injuries.
At about the same time, police were called to a second collision at the Highway 71/Business 71 stoplight. Again, no one was seriously hurt.
"Everybody was trying to get to work at (the Kawasaki Motors) plant, so you can imagine what a mess that was," White said. "I really think it's somewhat irresponsible for these factories to open in this kind of weather. I know they're trying to run a business, but they're literally putting hundreds and hundreds of people at risk."
Schools throughout the county were closed Wednesday. Northwest Missouri State University remained open.
In addition to the two bypass collisions, White said deputies and Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers responded to "dozens" of minor wrecks and slide-offs on rural roads and blacktops.
A couple of the trouble spots included the "T" intersection of highways 136 and 113 just north of Burlington Junction and Route A west of Pumpkin Center. White said there was also a report of a city of Maryville snowplow off the road on North Main Street near Oak Hill Cemetery.
"It was just really slick out there," he said. "It was hard to stand up."
Maryville Public Safety Director Keith Wood said traffic problems inside the city limits amounted to "nothing unusual for these conditions," though he described the first major winter storm of 2013 as "a very slick event."
The snow tapered off Wednesday morning as a cold front moved into the area. Forecasters predicted a high of 13 degrees above zero today with gusting northwest winds of between 20 and 30 mph and a low tonight of minus 1.
Look for temperatures to remain below freezing through Friday before warming into the mid-40s over the weekend with partly cloudy skies.