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'Rude awakening' for central U.S.: 2 blizzards in a week

A second powerful blizzard in a week roared through parts of the central U.S., bringing biting winds and dumping more than a foot of snow on areas still digging out.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A second powerful blizzard in a week roared through parts of the nation's midsection on Wednesday, bringing biting winds and dumping up to two feet of snow on areas still digging out from last week's major storm.

As the system barreled through the Plains toward the Deep South, it blanketed parts of northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas under a new layer of snow.

At least two traffic deaths were blamed on the system. And more than 1,200 flights were canceled due to the storm, according to the tracking service

Below's a look at the storm by state.

Oklahoma: 'Very unusual'
About 200 truck drivers sought shelter at a truck stop at the intersection of Interstate 44 and U.S. Highway 69, about 60 miles northeast of Tulsa.

"We have a 20-acre parking lot," said owner Katrina Franks. "But it's just utter chaos trying to get them started and keep them moving."

Truck driver Mike Mallory was hauling chemicals from Houston to Iowa when he pulled into the Big Cabin Travel Plaza as the weather worsened.

"It was a rude awakening when I got up this morning," Mallory said. "I can't even see the tollway from the parking lot."

In Oklahoma City, Will Rogers Airport got six inches of snow overnight, a week after a storm closed the airport for 13 hours.

"We had all had the feeling like that was our last big storm," said Karen Carney, airport marketing coordinator. "This is very unusual."

The heaviest snow was concentrated in the northeast corner of the state, where the towns of Colcord and Spavinaw got 22 and 23 inches, respectively. The deepest snow was reported near the village of Jay, with 25 inches.

In Tulsa, where mail, bus, and trash pickup service was only recently restored, 5 inches of new snow gave it 25.9 inches for the season, breaking its old seasonal record of 25.6 inches set back in 1923-1924.

Last week's record 14-inch snowfall kept students out of school for at least six days and made many roads in the state's second-largest city impassable.

Dean Guay, 23, was travelling from Boston to California for a job when his bus was forced to stop for the night in Tulsa. He and other passengers spent the night at a Red Cross shelter at the Crosstown Church of Christ.

"Everything thing was going fine until Oklahoma, then it went crazy," said Guay, who hopes to reach California by Friday or Saturday.

Greyhound spokesman Timothy Stokes said the passengers were given the option of staying at the bus terminal or the shelter, and that they will be picked up to continue the trip when it's safe to travel.

State officials, in conjunction with the National Guard, also set up staging areas in armories with Humvees and snowplows to respond to calls from stranded motorists, emergency management spokesperson Michelann Ooten said.

"It's essential because we are looking at such dangerous wind chills and temperatures," Ooten said.

Authorities warned drivers to stay off the roads. Last week's blizzard stranded hundreds of drivers who had to be taken to safety.

Ranchers struggled to keep their herds well fed and hydrated as wind chills fell well below zero.
In Beaver County, where overnight wind chills dropped to minus 19, Danny Engelman spent Wednesday tending to more than 300 head of cattle.

"If the temperatures get down to zero, with wind chills of 20 below zero, you've got a good chance of losing a calf," Engelman said. "Sometimes you've got to put them in the pickup and get some heat on them. But once that baby calf gets some milk in his stomach, he's good to go."

Most ranchers prepare for winter storms by supplying their cattle with high-protein feed like alfalfa to build up their energy reserves. "If their belly is filled with high-protein feed, they can withstand incredible cold," he said.

Arkansas: Lots more snow than predicted
The snow was worse across the state border in northwestern Arkansas, where nearly every community on that fringe of the Boston Mountains reported at foot or more of snow — blowing away forecasts that had called for only six inches.

A motorist was reported dead in a tractor-trailer crash just east of Little Rock, police said.

The storm left every major highway in the state either packed with snow or covered with slush.

"It kills business, but looks fantastic," Rob Cork, who runs a Siloam Springs tea room, said of the 18 inches that fell there. Twenty inches fell in nearby Gentrys.

Cork said he hadn't seen a soul trudging through the knee-high snow, and that he kept his business closed because most people around there stay indoors in such weather.

A quaint diner a few blocks away was also closed due to the snow, leaving locals to look elsewhere for their coffee and oatmeal.

"We can't make it in today since the snow is so deep!" the Cafe on Broadway posted on its website. "If roads get cleared, we might come in this afternoon. Be safe! No cars should be driving in this. You WILL get stuck!"

South Dakota: Highway closed down
A 50-mile section of Interstate 29 north from Watertown was closed down overnight because  snowdrifts blocked a section where up to 200 vehicles had been stranded last week, officials said.

Kansas: 'It's been crazy'
Eastern and south central Kansas got between 12 to 17 inches of new snow overnight, making a total of 35 to 40 inches in some areas in a month — the same as a typical total for an entire winter.

"It's been crazy," said Kansas DOT Wichita spokesman Tom Hein of the harsh winter.

Scores of car accidents were reported in Wichita on Tuesday but fewer Wednesday, possibly because the closing of schools and businesses had many people staying home, Hein said.

Schoolchildren in Kansas got to spend Wednesday building snow forts and shoveling driveways, and several Kansas universities cancelled classes for the day.

By morning, 17 inches of snow had fallen in Newton, 15 inches in Coffey and 14 inches in Wilson, the National Weather Service said.

As the storm moved out of Kansas, temperatures were expected to drop into the teens in the state, making the coming weekend's forecast of temperatures in the mid-40s seem downright balmy.

Texas: Flights, classes canceledClasses were canceled for students in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Amarillo school districts.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport saw about 500 departure and arrival cancellations, according to, while Houston's airport saw 150 cancellations.

Missouri: Deadly crash
In Springfield, a 31-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of her vehicle after passing a car and veered off a snow-covered road into a ditch. Two young children survived the crash with minor injuries.

Into the Deep South
As the storm moved toward the Deep South, it was expected to dump up to five inches of snow on northwest Mississippi and an inch or less around Atlanta, enough to snarl traffic and cause closures in a region traditionally short of salt trucks and plowing equipment. Winter storm warnings were issued for an area stretching from northern Louisiana to Georgia.

In Tennessee, schools in Memphis closed by noon, while Nashville closed schools before the day started. The heaviest snow, at four inches, was expected in the west of the state, forecasters said.

Snow hit Nashville just in time for evening rush-hour, causing snarled traffic and dozens of wrecks.

Louisiana officials closed state offices in 26 parishes because sleet and snow were expected to make driving hazardous.

In the Midwest, the Plains and Colorado, temperatures were in the single digits, with wind chills making the air feel like 17 below zero in Denver.

Temperatures were in the teens and 20s Fahrenheit in the Northeast. Snow was forecast for New England and upper New York State, with the heaviest accumulations between Syracuse and Watertown, according to Some areas could pick up close to 12 inches by Thursday morning, the web site said.