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An Emporia State University student walks around campus in the midst of the storm on Feb. 21 in Emporia, Kan. / Matthew Fowler, AP

The second winter storm in a week, this one featuring heavy, wet snow and driving winds, pounded parts of the Midwest on Tuesday, closing schools, snarling transportation and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

The storm was ripping through Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma early Tuesday, with eight inches on the ground in some places and more on the way. More than 80,000 homes and businesses were without power.

"This storm will have a huge impact, with additional heavy snows likely over portions of eastern Kansas and northern Missouri which received very heavy snowfall amounts last week," weather service meteorologist Robert Oravec wrote in an online bulletin.

Chicago was forecast to see up to six inches of ice and snow by Tuesday night. Detroit and Milwaukee were among other major cities in the storm's immediate path.

Airlines have canceled more than 1,900 flights during the past 72 hours and were waiving fees for passengers scrambling to make connections through the storm's path. FlightStats reported 345 cancellations at Chicago O'Hare and 117 at Kansas City alone.

The storm already was being blamed for two deaths -- in northwest Kansas, a 21-year-old man's SUV hit an icy patch on Interstate 70 and overturned. And in the northwest town of Woodward, Okla., heavy snow caused a roof to collapse, killing one inside the home.

The storm will continue to dump snow across the Lower Great Lakes region Tuesday night and into northern New York State and northern New England on Wednesday, Oravec says.

The storm forced road closures in Texas on Monday. Paul Braun, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said whiteout conditions and drifting snow had made all roads in the Texas Panhandle impassable. Interstate 40 was closed from Amarillo to the Oklahoma state line Monday.

Amarillo, Texas, saw about 20 inches of snow Monday. Along with the snow, a weather station in Pantex, Texas, reported a wind gust Monday morning of 77 mph. A wind gust of 84 mph was reported near El Paso, well south of the snowstorm.

In the drought-stricken Plains, thirsting for moisture, the storm could help replenish the groundwater. Climatologists say 12 inches of snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain, depending on the density of the snow.

"Is it a drought buster? Absolutely not," Victor Murphy with the weather service in Fort Worth, Texas, said. "Will it bring short-term improvement? Yes."

Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY; Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Kansas City, Chicago among cities facing winter's fury

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