South, Oklahoma get more snow while north freezes

NASHVILLE, Tennessee Wed Feb 9, 2011 4:00pm EST

Storm systems are seen in a satellite photo taken February 9, 2011. REUTERS/NOAA/Handout

Storm systems are seen in a satellite photo taken February 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/NOAA/Handout

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - The mid-south is starting to look like the far north this winter, with Oklahoma digging out from up to 20 inches of snow that fell overnight, and Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama getting hit on Wednesday.

The snow in Oklahoma was on top of the eight to 20 inches the state got in last week's blizzard.

"We had all had the feeling like that was our last big storm," said Karen Carney, airport marketing coordinator at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. "This is very unusual."

The airport got about six inches last night, a week after a storm that closed the airport for 13 hours.

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, said Barb Blue, travel information manager at the Kansas Department of Transportation.

"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.

Wednesday, heavy snow was falling across parts of Arkansas, and will continue across Tennessee, northern to central Mississippi, and eventually Alabama, said Corey Mead, forecaster for the National Storm Prediction Center. Parts of Arkansas could get eight inches.

Schools in Memphis were set to close by noon Wednesday, while Nashville closed schools before the day started. The heaviest snow, at four inches, was expected in the west of the state, forecasters said.

Oklahoma officials, in conjunction with the National Guard, have 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.

South Dakota transportation officials closed a 50-mile section of Interstate 29 north from Watertown from late Tuesday to just after 8 a.m. CT on Wednesday because parts of the roadway were blocked by snowdrifts in a section of the highway where up to 200 vehicles had been stranded overnight last week, officials said.

In the Midwest, the Plains and Colorado, temperatures were in the single digits, with wind chills making the air feel 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 weather.com. Some areas could pick up close to 12 inches by Thursday morning, the web site said.

(Additional reporting by David Bailey and Kevin Murphy; Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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