Winter storm blankets Great Plains with snow

By Jim Salter

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Feb. 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Near the Nebraska-Kansas border, as much as 8 inches fell overnight, while western Nebraska saw about half of that amount, National Weather Service forecaster Shawn Jacobs said.

Areas in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle also had up to 8 inches of snow by Thursday morning. Christy Walker, a waitress at the Polly Anna Cafe in Woodward, Okla., got stuck on her drive into work. But business in the western Oklahoma town was brisk, she said.

"It's affecting everybody who is hungry and wants to come out to eat," she said. "I'm extremely busy right now."

Elsewhere, Arkansas saw a mix of precipitation — in places, a combination of hail, sleet and freezing rain, others saw 6 inches of snow. Forecasters warned northern Arkansas could get a half-inch of ice.

Two fatal accidents were attributed to winter weather on Wednesday. In Oklahoma, 18-year-old Cody Alexander of Alex, Okla., died when his pickup truck skidded on a slushy state highway into oncoming traffic and struck a truck. And in Nebraska, 19-year-old Kristina Leigh Anne Allen of Callaway died when a SUV lost control in snowy, icy conditions, crossed the median and struck her car.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Thursday morning and activated the State Emergency Operations Center. By midmorning Thursday, the snow was coming down so hard that Kansas City International Airport shut down. More than 200 flights were also canceled by Thursday afternoon at Lambert Airport in St. Louis.

Alex Sosnowski, a meteorologist for Accuweather, said the storm will push off into the Great Lakes and central Appalachians, and freezing rain could make it as far east and south as North Carolina. He also said a "spin-off" storm was expected to create heavy snow in New England, and could push Boston to a February record.

Accuweather said that by the time the storm dies out, at least 24 states will be affected.

Associated Press writers Chris Clark in Kansas City, Mo.; Jordan Shapiro in Columbia, Mo.; David A. Lieb in Jefferson City, Mo.; Josh Funk and Nelson Lampe in Omaha, Neb.; John Hanna in Topeka, Kan.; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kan.; Tim Talley in Oklahoma City; David Warren in Dallas; Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark.; Jim Suhr in St. Louis; and Steven K. Paulson in Denver contributed to this report.

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