(Updates with storm moving into Midwest, details)
By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Feb 21 A major winter storm
moved into the U.S. Midwest on Thursday, blanketing states from
Minnesota to Ohio with a mix of blinding snow, sleet and
The same storm dumped more than a foot of snow in Kansas,
stranded motorists on highways and forced airports to cancel
hundreds of flights.
The storm is expected to eventually reach the East Coast
this weekend, delivering heavy snow to parts of New England for
a third straight weekend, from northern Connecticut to southern
Kansas bore the brunt of the storm, with up to 15 inches (38
cm) of snow in some parts of the state, according to the
National Weather Service. A 200-mile (323-km) stretch of
Interstate 70 in central Kansas was closed and strewn with cars
stuck in snow.
National Guard troops riding in Humvees were dispatched to
look for stranded motorists along the interstate and other
highways, said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for Kansas emergency
The fierce storm triggered severe thunderstorms from eastern
Texas to Georgia.
Thunder accompanied snow in Kansas City, hit by 2 to 3
inches of snow per hour on Thursday morning.
"When there is thunder and lightning, it's a pretty
screaming clue that you are going to have massive snowfall,"
said Andy Bailey, a meteorologist with the National Weather
Service in Pleasant Hill, Missouri.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Kansas Governor Sam
Brownback declared states of emergency because of hazardous
travel and possible power outages. Brownback ordered state
offices closed because of the storm.
STORM BRINGS SOME DROUGHT RELIEF
Kansas City International Airport was closed on Thursday
while crews cleared runways. It was unclear when the airport
would reopen, spokesman Joe McBride said.
At the Denver International Airport, some 55 commuter
flights were canceled overnight, spokeswoman Laura Coale said.
More than 320 flights in and out of Lambert-St. Louis
International Airport were scrapped and nearly 50 flights in and
out of Omaha's Eppley Airfield were listed as canceled by
In Nebraska, a 19-year-old woman was killed in a two-car
accident on Wednesday on Interstate 80 near Giltner. The
Nebraska State Patrol said weather was a factor.
An 18-year-old man died in Oklahoma when his vehicle slid
into a semi-truck on a slushy state highway, the state's highway
Drought-stricken farmers in the Great Plains, one of the
world's largest wheat-growing areas, welcomed the moisture
brought by the storm, although experts said more rain or snow
would be needed to ensure healthy crops.
"It's a travel nightmare, but all I hear are good things
from farmers about how much this moisture is needed," said
meteorologist Jeff Johnson of the National Weather Service in
Dodge City, Kansas.
(Additional reporting by Ian Simpson, Ben Berkowitz, Keith
Coffman in Denver, Suzi Parker in Little Rock, Kay Henderson in
Des Moines, Steve Olafson in Oklahoma City and Tim Bross in St.
Louis; Editing by Paul Thomasch, Kevin Gray and Lisa Shumaker)