CHICAGO -- A winter colossus roared into the nation's heartland Tuesday, laying down a paralyzing punch of dangerous ice and whiteout snow that served notice from Texas to Maine that the storm billed as the worst in decades was living up to the hype so far.
Ice-covered streets were deserted in Super Bowl host city Dallas. Whiteouts shut down Oklahoma City and Tulsa. And more was on the way. Chicago expected 2 feet of snow, Indianapolis an inch of ice, and the Northeast still more ice and snow in what's shaping up to be a record winter for the region.
The system that stretched more than 2,000 miles across a third of the country promised to leave in its aftermath a chilly cloak of teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the single digits or lower.
Winds topped 60 mph in Texas. The newspaper in Tulsa, Okla., canceled its print edition for the first time in more than a century. And in Chicago, both major airports gave up on flying until at least this afternoon.
The storm also led Chicago officials to close the city's busy and iconic Lake Shore Drive while crews tried to plow snow Tuesday night. City officials said the move was temporary but that they could have to close it again if high winds push 25-foot waves from nearby Lake Michigan onto the roadway.
Everyone "should brace for a storm that will be remembered for a long time," said Jose Santiago, executive director of the city's office of emergency management.
The worst of the storm was expected late Tuesday evening, but many cities began shutting down hours ahead of the snow. Scores of schools, colleges and government offices canceled activities or decided not to open at all.
Large sections of busy Midwest interstates were closed, and nearly 6,000 flights had been canceled across the nation.
Early accounts indicated many people already planned to heed advice to stay home.
"It's going to be a ghost town," Chicago-area commuter Martin Berg said after arriving at a downtown train station.
At the tony Chicago apartment buildings closest to Lake Michigan, employees weren't fazed by the storm, but they kept an eye on the lakefront nonetheless.
At one building, the wind was strong enough to send the heavy revolving door spinning by itself.
"This is nothing to play with here. This is gale-force wind," doorman Edward Butler said as he peered outside at snow blowing horizontally.
"If you're a true Chicagoan, you don't back down from this kind of storm." But, he said, "if you don't respect it, you'll pay a price."
The storm was expected to roll into the Northeast today, bringing still more snow to a winter-weary region.