KANSAS CITY, MO. — For the second time in a week, a major winter storm paralyzed parts of the nation’s midsection Tuesday, dumping a fresh layer of heavy, wet snow atop cities still choked with piles from the previous system and making travel perilous from the Oklahoma panhandle to the Great Lakes.
The weight of the snow strained power lines and cut electricity to more than 100,000 homes and businesses. At least three deaths were blamed on the blizzard.
The Missouri Department of Transportation issued a rare “no travel” advisory, urging people to stay off highways except in case of a dire emergency. Conditions were so bad that some snowplows slid into ditches, underlining the danger even to well-equipped travelers.
“It’s straight hell. It’s snowing, blowing, drifting, everything,” said Robert Branscecum, a trucker from Campton, Ill., who was hauling merchandise to Dallas. He had been stranded since Monday evening at Beto Junction, about 80 miles southwest of Kansas City.
“The cars are stuck in the parking lot. Some of the trucks that tried to leave got stuck,” he said. “I’m not leaving anytime soon.”
Up to 10 inches had fallen in and around Kansas City, Mo., by the time the snow tapered off before midday. Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency.
For a second straight week, schoolchildren, government workers and others caught a break as most schools and office buildings were closed. Hospitals closed outpatient centers and urgent-care clinics.
Although the amount of snow was not unusual for late February, the snow was so heavy that it stressed everything it fell on, especially the electrical grid. Power was slowly being restored as the thick clouds moved on.
In the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, a person was killed after 15 inches of snow brought down part of a roof. The storm also was blamed for the deaths of two people who were killed in rollover crashes on Interstate 70 in Kansas.
Heavy snow pulled down large trees and caused roofs to cave in at businesses in Belton and Warrensburg, Mo., where 13 inches of snow piled up. In Columbia, a canopy over gas pumps collapsed at a convenience store.
By noon, the storm had arrived in the Great Lakes with a mixture of blowing snow, sleet and frigid rain that disrupted most forms of travel. Airlines canceled almost 500 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports alone.
Also in Chicago, the heavy weather threatened to hold down voter turnout in a special election to choose the likely replacement for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.