Snow in Midwest leads to fatal 25-vehicle pileup

Woman in Utah a storm fatality after trying to walk from stuck car

By Margery Beck

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Dec. 20 2012 3:42 p.m. MST

By comparison, airlines canceled more than 13,000 flights over a two-day period during a February 2011 snowstorm that hit the Midwest. And more than 20,000 flights were canceled during Superstorm Sandy.

Before the storm, several cities in the Midwest had broken records for the number of consecutive days without measurable snow.

In the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale, Kristin Isenhart, 38, said her three kids, ages 9, 5 and 3, were asking about going outside to play after school was canceled for the day.

"They are thrilled that it snowed," she said. "They've asked several times to go outside, and I might bundle them up and let them go."

As far as the region's drought, meteorologists said the storm wouldn't make much of a dent. It takes a foot or more of snow to equal an inch of water, said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people lost power in Arkansas, Iowa and Nebraska as heavy snow and strong winds pulled down lines. Smaller outages were reported in Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Louisiana.

"The roads have been so bad our crews have not been able to respond to them," said Justin Foss, a spokesman for Alliant Energy, which had 13,000 customers without power in central Iowa. "We have giant four-wheel-drive trucks with chains on them, so when we can't get there it's pretty rough."

Tom Tretter and his wife, Pat, had been without power since Wednesday night, and temperatures Thursday were dropping. The retired seniors were shoveling their steep driveway Thursday afternoon and scraping ice off the walkway to their Des Moines home.

"It's getting cold in the house," Tom Tretter said, leaning on his shovel in the driveway. "And I'm getting too old for this."

Blake Landau, a cook serving eggs, roast beef sandwiches and chili to hungry snowplow drivers at Newton's Paradise Cafe in downtown Waterloo, Iowa, said he has always liked it when it snows on his birthday. He turned 27 on Thursday.

"It's kind of one of those things where it's leading up to Christmas time," Landau said. "We don't know when we get our first snowfall, and I hope we get it by my birthday. It's nice to have a nice snowy Christmas."

Beck reported from Omaha, Neb. Associated Press writers Scott Mayerowitz in New York; Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee; Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo.; Jason Keyser in Chicago; Barbara Rodriguez in Des Moines; and Ryan J. Foley in Iowa City, Iowa contributed to this report.

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