Blizzard Batters U.S. Heartland, Spreads Snowy Mess into the Midwest

CNN.com

Tree limbs lay broken by heavy wet snow on Wehmeyer Road, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, after another winter storm dumped about eight inches of snow in central Boone County, Mo. The second major snowstorm in a week battered the nation's midsection Tuesday, dropping a half-foot or more of snow across Missouri and Kansas and cutting power to thousands. Gusting winds blew drifts more than 2 feet high and created treacherous driving conditions for those who dared the morning commute. (AP Photo/The Columbia Daily Tribune, Don Shrubshell)

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By Aaron Hepker

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- Phillip Prince sat in his tractor-trailer, stuck on Interstate 40 near Groom, Texas, for hours.

Nine hours and four minutes, to be precise.

Prince and his co-driver were due in California at 1 p.m. Tuesday, where they were going to drop off 25,000 pounds of frozen pizza.

But they stumbled on what the National Weather Service is calling "a crippling, historic blizzard."

"It was pretty nasty when we first got into it," he said. "But then it turned into a whiteout."

Prince, who has been a long-haul driver for nine years, said in a submission to CNN's iReport he'd never seen it so bad. The line of trucks on the westbound side of the interstate was five to six miles long.

A day later, three people were dead, and 21 states and 45 million people were under some form of winter weather watch, warning or advisory.

Gobs of wet, heavy snow plopped to the ground in the Kansas City area along the Kansas and Missouri border.

The piling snow snapped tree branches, brought down power lines and made it tough for snow plows and utility crews to keep up. Power outages doubled to 25,000 before dawn, Kansas City Power and Light said. Most flights out of Kansas City International Airport were canceled.

It was the second major winter storm to pummel the region in as many weeks, and it could bring up to 18 inches of snow to parts of Kansas, Missouri and Illinois a day after plastering Oklahoma and Texas. Winter storm watches and warnings stretched from Oklahoma to Michigan.

"Schools are closed, and I don't think there's a snow shovel in place in the area to be found," said Sly James, the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Kansas National Guard warned that continued snowfall and gusty winds would make travel tricky through Wednesday.

In Woodward, Oklahoma, emergency vehicles were still having trouble getting around Tuesday, a day after the storm dropped more than 15 inches of snow.

Crews dispatched to a house fire Monday had trouble reaching the home because of 4-foot snowdrifts. The snowplow sent to free the firefighters also got stuck. Even Tuesday, emergency vehicles still were having a tough time getting around.

"We're in such a mess," Woodward Mayor Roscoe Hill said.

At least three people have died because of the storm: one in Woodward when a roof collapsed, Hill said.

The other two deaths came in Kansas on Monday in separate weather-related accidents on Interstate 70. One accident happened in Sherman County and the other in Ellis County, the Kansas National Guard said.

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