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Snow, thunderstorms black out thousands

Winter Weather
Nick Brandfon, a Northwestern University Law School student, takes advantage of an overnight winter storm that dumped several inches of fresh snow in Chicago's Lincoln Park on Tuesday.Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A broad storm system spread heavy snow across the Great Lakes region Tuesday and fired up violent thunderstorms that knocked out power to thousands of homes and businesses in the Southeast.

At least two deaths were blamed on the stormy weather.

Fallen trees and other debris on roads slowed travel and several traffic accidents brought morning rush hour traffic to a standstill in Birmingham, authorities said.

A falling tree struck a mobile home and killed a 71-year-old woman in Leeds, a town outside Birmingham, The Jefferson County coroner's office said.

Utilities said about 42,000 homes and business lost electrical service across central Alabama early Tuesday.

Georgia Power spokesman Jeff Wilson said the number of customers without power rose to 93,000 by 8 a.m. Tuesday, with most outages in the Atlanta area. By 10:30 p.m., service was restored to all but about 1,000, Wilson said.

Snow fell from Illinois to New England, with more than 6 inches on the ground by late morning in northern Indiana and Ohio. Up to a foot of snow was possible in parts of Ohio, the National Weather Service said.

Schools were closed in parts of southern Michigan and northern areas of Indiana and Ohio, where the University of Toledo also closed for the morning. Some local government buildings closed in Ohio and the Akron zoo also closed for the day. Schools closed early in parts of New York state.

Several accidents shut down a stretch of slippery Interstate 75 in northern Ohio, and one man died in a wreck on a snow-covered Ohio highway, police reported.

Up to 16 inches of snow was possible across northern sections of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, the weather service said.

By the time snow stops falling Wednesday, Burlington, Vt., could surpass its February snowfall record of 34.3 inches and its December- January-February of 96.9 inches. Concord, N.H., already had set a record this year for the snowiest December, January and February with 89.1 inches.

"We'll be plowing for the next couple of days, at least," said Steve Goodkind, director of public works in Burlington, Vt.