Big chill moves in as big snow leaves U.S.

Feb. 3, 2011 at 7:24 AM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Bitter cold settled in for much of the United States Thursday as the massive winter storm left the country for Canada, weather forecasters said.

Surface temperatures in single digits and wind chills below zero were common in the nation's midsection, complicating snow removal from the historic storm that dumped up to two feet of snow in some places as it chugged across the United States, CNN reported.

The storm system blanketed 30 states with a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, produced record-breaking accumulations in several places in the Midwest, and wreaked havoc on air and road travel. Roads became impassible because of snow and ice, and thousands of flights were canceled. Officials in several states reported roof collapses under the weight of accumulated snow covered by rain.

Officials blamed the storm for at least three deaths, one each in Oklahoma, Michigan and Illinois.

The National Weather Service's Web site went down sporadically as tens of millions of visitors tried to get information about the storm, CNN reported.

Chicago recorded its third largest snowstorm on record, with O'Hare International Airport receiving 20.2 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

Hundreds of Chicago-area schools were closed Thursday, with some districts saying classes would be canceled Friday as well, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Portions of the Texas coast and the lower Mississippi Valley braced for a dangerous snow and ice mix Thursday, forecasters said. The Texas energy commission Wednesday announced rolling blackouts to maintain power grid integrity as demand increased.

The advent of more frozen precipitation in the lower Rio Grande agriculture areas could mean crops such as beans, tomatoes, peppers and sugar cane may suffer, AccuWeather.com said.

Southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama were forecast to remain icy Thursday before rain moved in.

In Texas, Brownsville, McAllen, Corpus Christi, Victoria and Houston could see freezing rain change over to snow and sleet, while San Antonio, Austin, Waco and Dallas were expecting about an inch of snow.

But temperatures were expected to rebound to more seasonable levels in time for Super Bowl XLV between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers in Arlington Sunday, AccuWeather.com said.

The storm was expected to snake up the East Coast Saturday, bringing another round of snow and wintry weather to parts of the Northeast.

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