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Monster storm slogs toward US midsection

February 1, 2011 12:12:23 AM PST
A monster winter storm bigger than some Midwest cities have seen in years slogged toward the nation's midsection Monday as the region geared up its defenses against a potentially deadly mix of sleet, snow and ice that could affect a third of the nation.

While record snowfalls have pounded the Northeast in what's shaping up to be one of that region's most brutal winters, the Midwest has been comparatively unscathed. Not this time: Up to two feet of snow was forecast for some cities, and the storm was expected to carve a frigid path from Colorado to New England by week's end. Thunderstorms and tornadoes were possible further south.

The National Weather Service, meanwhile, suggested any Green Bay Packers fans planning to road trip from Wisconsin to Dallas for the Super Bowl not leave before Wednesday afternoon, by which time authorities hope to have responded to the worst of the weather along the route.

For now, officials are urging residents in the storm's path to stay put.

"We don't like to stop for anything, weather or otherwise," said weather service meteorologist Edward Fenelon in Chicago. "But this may be one of those storms best handled from the comfort of the great indoors."

  • The weather service said the storm could drop up to an inch of freezing rain and issued a blizzard watch for Tuesday and Wednesday for southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Snow drifts of 5 feet to 10 feet were possible and the service said Tuesday that winds could reach up to 60 mph in open areas and near Lake Michigan.
  • Forecasters predicted between 12 inches and 16 inches of snowfall in Columbia, where the university's men's basketball team prepared to leave a day early for a road game at Oklahoma State University scheduled for Wednesday night in Stillwater.
  • Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels directed his state's Department of Homeland Security to coordinate preparations and his office was meeting with utility companies, local emergency agencies, the state highway department and National Guard.

Freezing drizzle coated roadways across the Plains. A school bus slid off the road in a south Kansas City, Mo., school district, slightly injuring two students. A Wisconsin state trooper was struck and seriously injured while directing traffic around another accident, while the Minnesota State Patrol reported more than 200 crashes statewide, including one authorities said was fatal.

After burying the Midwest, the storm was expected to sweep into the Northeast, parts of which already are on track for record snowfall this winter. In New Hampshire, where pedestrians have been forced to walk in the street in some places because of piled-up snow, crews rushed to remove it before a new foot or so fell on the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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