Storm sweeps into U.S. Plains, 10 inches of snow expected

KANSAS CITY, Mo. Tue Feb 4, 2014 12:15pm EST

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. Feb 4 (Reuters) - An unusually heavy storm was blanketing Kansas with what forecasters said could be up to 10 inches of snow on Tuesday before an expected quick march across the Midwest and into New England.

The band of heavy, wet snow forced the closing of many state offices and schools throughout the region, as authorities advised people to stay in their homes and the National Weather Service warned of "extremely difficult travel conditions."

"Kansas City and eastern Kansas is going to get a lot of snow," said Greg Carbin, meteorologist for the NWS Storm Prediction Center. "It's remarkable weather. Winter is entrenched. It doesn't appear to be wanting to go anywhere."

The storm system set up Monday night over southwestern Kansas and was peaking over Kansas City on Tuesday, weather service meteorologist Dan Hawblitzel said. Only about 3 percent of the winter storms that hit Kansas City total more than 6 inches of snow, so this event is uncommon, he said.

The storm system is carrying a heavy swath of snow through the central United States, and is forecast to track east and north into Pennsylvania, New York, and the New England states by Wednesday.

"This will hit about two-thirds of the country," Hawblitzel said.

The incoming snow comes after a fast-moving winter storm hit the U.S. Northeast on Monday, forcing flight cancellations throughout the region and tying up traffic the day after the NFL's Super Bowl championship game in New Jersey.

Flight delays and cancellations were continuing on Tuesday as the new storm advanced. There were more than 3,100 flights delayed on Tuesday morning and 905 flights cancelled, according to Flightaware.com, an online site that tracks air traffic.

On Sunday, famed groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow in the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, saw his shadow and - as the legend goes - predicted six more weeks of winter. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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