Nightly News   |  February 21, 2013

Winter storm slams into Midwest

Near white out conditions, thunder snow and strong winds swept into the Midwest, bringing transportation to a halt in several states. And in the South, a wintry mix of rain, snow and sleet created dangerous icy conditions. The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> going on in the middle of this country, along with total paralysis across a wide area, because of an unusually large and wide-ranging winter storm . as one meteorologist put it today, instead of pouring rain, it is pouring snow. massive amounts of it shutting down interstates and airports, schools and state houses. as this moves from west to east. before it's all over, this one storm will cover 750,000 square miles . it will hit fully 20% of the u.s. population . 60 million americans. we have it all covered tonight, starting with weather channel meteorologist mike seidel . he's in kansas city , where this storm, by the way, is hitting two days after that huge explosion and fire in the downtown area . but it's just one of the cities in the path. mike, good evening.

>> and good evening, brian. so far this storm has been responsible for five deaths here in kansas city . a wall of white rolled through this morning, dumping snow, as much as 3 inches an hour, shutting down the airport and causing a state of emergency . that scene was repeated across many cities and areas of the midwest. armed with snowplows and shovels, the midwest today tried its best to fight back against a wicked winter storm that brought strong winds. near whiteout conditions. even thundersnow. as the deadly system that brought record snow to arizona, oklahoma and texas swept into the great plains today, schools and businesses were closed, and transportation in several states nearly ground to a halt. in kansas, authorities closed dozens of roads and highways , including a 90-mile stretch of interstate 70 . parts of the state were buried under more than 14 inches of snow today. it fell so fast in it wichita, the city was forced to hire 20 additional snowplows. blizzard conditions were a challenge, even for them. the roads were so bad in illinois, this minivan lost control, taking out a traffic light. a state of emergency was declared for all of missouri, with the governor urging residents to stay off the roads. kansas city international airport was closed for much of the day, and hundreds of flights across the region were cancelled.

>> i first walked in, i saw the line here, and i said, "this cannot be good."

>> farther south, snow, rain, sleet, and dangerous icy conditions. in st. louis, salt trucks blank blanketed the city in preparation and officials activated the emergency transportation center.

>> they will be out all day long, plowing the roads and preparing for the main part of the storm that we're expecting to hit rush hour this evening.

>> feels like we're in a snow globe .

>> the snow is welcome news in this drought-stricken region, where many farmers have been hit hard.

>> the guys i know are probably doing cart wheels, having this kind of mice tour.

>> but they would need 10 feet of snow to make up the deficit. even this snowfall will offer a little relief. and tonight, 20 states all parts of 20 states under some type of winter weather advisory or warning. back here in kc, they hope to get flights resumed at the airport sometime after 7:00 a.m . after they dig the airport out tonight. meanwhile, o'hare has already preemptively cancelled over 200 inbound and outbound flights tomorrow, friday. so check with your air carrier , and maybe pack a lunch.

>> thanks, mike seidel , kansas city ,