Winter storm power outages, flight cancellations: Storm subsides, but misery not over yet

KANSAS CITY - The worst of a brutal winter storm may be over for many, but plenty of residents of the Great Plains and Kansas City still were coping Tuesday with its effects.

Ice and falling branches downed power lines, cutting electricity to tens of thousands of people. And the heavy, wet snow made getting around difficult, whether by car or by foot.

A CNN crew driving through Kansas City saw very few other drivers, and those who were out were taking their time.

Residents, hit by two snow storms back-to back, just want a break.

"It's been a long, what, seven days, 10 days, something like that," Kansas City resident and snow shoveler Lindsey Hughes said. "I'm ready to go home."

The storm is weakening as it moves to the Northeast and the moisture is being stolen by the rain, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

"This is great news," Myers said. "The rain is taking the moisture out of the storm and taking the punch out of what could be the snow part of the storm, and it's raining out rather than snowing out."

That means areas hit with snow Tuesday won't see accumulations like portions of Texas, northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas got Monday. Rain was falling Tuesday afternoon over much of the Midwest.

There likely will be snow all day in Chicago, Myers said.

More than 330 flights at O'Hare International Airport and 170 at Midway International Airport were canceled Tuesday.

About 45 million people in 21 states were under some form of winter weather watch, warning or advisory.

Piling snow also damaged buildings in Kansas and Missouri.

In Shawnee, Kansas, the roof of a horse arena collapsed under the weight of snow Tuesday morning, CNN affiliate KSHB reported. It was one of several such collapses in the region because of the wet heavy snow, the station said.

No injuries were reported in those collapses, but a person died Monday in a roof collapse in hard-hit Woodward, Oklahoma, said Mayor Roscoe Hill.

Two other 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.

More than 56,000 customers in Kansas and Missouri were without power Tuesday afternoon, the Kansas National Guard said. The bulk of the outages -- 45,000 -- were in the Kansas City region straddling the border between Kansas and Missouri.

Most flights out of Kansas City International Airport were canceled.

Roads were still snow-covered, but improving, in northwestern Missouri, the state Department of Transportation said on Twitter. The agency continued to discourage travel.

Forecasters expected the storm to bring up to a foot of snow to parts of eastern Kansas, Missouri and Illinois a day after plastering southern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Winter storm watches and warnings or weather advisories stretched from Oklahoma to Michigan.

Also on Tuesday, a stretch of Interstate 40 east of Amarillo, Texas, was closed in both directions because of what the Texas Department of Transportation called "extremely icy conditions."

While the back-to-back snowstorms were frustrating for some, others put a positive spin on the experience. Jim Service of Overland Park, Kansas, spaced out the work of clearing last week's snowfall over four days. He finished Sunday, just in time for this storm.

After a warm-up session clearing Tuesday's snow -- much wetter and heavier than last week's -- he retreated inside with a Clive Cussler novel and planned to enjoy the day off. Like many others, Service's company called off work Tuesday at the behest of state officials who warned that the storm was too dangerous for people to be on the roads.

"It's great for me," he said.

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

In Woodward, 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," said Hill, the mayor.

Whiteout conditions

The storm follows one last week that paralyzed a broad swath of the Plains and Midwest with more than a foot of snow. Portions of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and other states were affected.

The storm prompted a state of emergency declaration in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, bringing whiteout conditions to southern parts of those states and Texas.

Schools in Wichita, Kansas, were closed Tuesday for a fourth straight day after last week's storm, which dumped a record 14.2 inches on the city. Wichita has received 21 inches of snow in February, breaking a record that had stood for 100 years, the National Weather Service said. And it all fell in the past six days.

Amarillo, not far from where truck driver Prince was stuck, saw 19

inches of snow Monday, along with fierce winds that whipped the snow into whiteout conditions.

By Monday night, though, conditions had improved in the Texas Panhandle.

"Things have cleared up now," said CNN iReporter Julie Swift, a student at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. "The snow is starting to melt and the roads are improving. It's still very windy, though."

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