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Hundreds of drivers were stranded on interstate highways in Kentucky on Thursday after a winter storm socked the state with snow — more than 2 feet in some places.
Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville said 200 tractor-trailers were stuck in Hardin County, south of the city. Transportation officials said that stranded cars were blocking plows and that cars and jackknifed trucks were blocking detour routes.
Gov. Steve Beshear declared an emergency, and the Kentucky National Guard was deployed to rescue the stranded. It was not clear how many remained on the roads by afternoon, but the state police said that 30 miles of Interstate 65 and 50 miles of I-24 were still impassable.
Kris Weber told The Weather Channel in the morning that she had been stranded since Wednesday night on Interstate 65, where “you couldn’t tell where the lanes were on the road. Everything was snow-covered.”
"We’ve seen, like, no plows, no police cars, nothing," Natalie Steed told MSNBC from I-65, where she had been stuck for seven hours.
Radcliff, Kentucky, reported 25 inches of snow, and other places got more than 20. Kentucky got the worst of a vast winter storm system that forced the cancellation of more than 4,000 flights, including hundreds each in New York, Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington.
At LaGuardia Airport in New York, a Delta plane skidded off the runway, causing a fuel leak, leaving its nose on am embankment inches from the water and forcing passengers to scramble to safety. Two dozen people were hurt.
In Kentucky, Chief Mark Barnard of the Lexington police said that officers there were trying to reach 55 or 60 stranded drivers. Gridlock was also reported on I-64 and I-24 in western Kentucky. Some places in central Kentucky reported 20 inches of snow.
Sydney Miller told The Weather Channel that she was stuck for 13 hours behind a wreck outside Elizabethtown before a woman walked the front of a line of stranded cars and helped organize a way out of the jam.
“This morning around 6 o’clock, we had had enough,” she said. “We weren’t moving. We weren’t going anywhere. I wasn’t feeling well. We had no food or water. We decided we had to get proactive and start doing something.”
The governors of Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and New Jersey declared states of emergency ahead of the storm, which began rolling through Wednesday night and is expected to last through Thursday. About 100 million people in 28 states were under winter advisories.
The snow was expected to continue in Washington, Philadelphia and New York until mid-evening. Washington, where federal offices were closed, was expecting as much as 8 inches in all. Philadelphia was expecting as much as 10 and New York as much as 6.
Record cold will remain behind the storm in the South, and the forecast shows temperatures dropping 30 to 45 degrees in 24 hours. Kentucky could see zero, and Columbus, Ohio, can expect temperatures of about 3 degrees.
The good news: Once this winter storm heads off over the Atlantic, many Americans should finally get a break from what has seemed a neverending winter.
“As far as large winter storms, this looks like the last one for a while,” said Kevin Roth, senior meteorologist at The Weather Channel. “There are no guarantees that this will be the end of it, but it will be a nice break.”
— Erin McClam and Phil Helsel
The Associated Press contributed to this report.