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Midwest swaddled in blanket of snow; travel tough

Friday - 2/22/2013, 4:20am  ET

Braden Center jumps his sled over a mound of snow on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 in Wichita. Kan. Parts of Kansas have received over a foot of snow since a strong winter storm moved through the area. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Travis Heying)

JIM SALTER
Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Powdery snow bombarded much of the nation's midsection Thursday, leaving as much as 17 inches in some places, shutting down airports, schools and state legislatures.

The storm system swirled to the north and east Thursday night, its snow, sleet and freezing rain prompting winter storm warnings from Kansas to Illinois. Forecasters say the storm will continue its crawl overnight, hitting the upper Midwest by Friday morning.

The system has already left impressive snow accumulations, especially in Kansas, where a foot and half of snow fell in Hays. Farther east in Topeka, 3 inches of snow fell in only 30 minutes, leaving medical center worker Jennifer Carlock to dread the drive home.

"It came on fast," Carlock said as she shoveled around her car. "We're going to test out traction control on the way home."

Numerous accidents and two deaths were being blamed on the icy, slushy roadways. Most schools in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states, were closed and legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said it was "pouring snow" earlier Thursday, with it falling at a rate of 2 inches per hour or more in some spots.

All flights at Kansas City International Airport were canceled for Thursday night, and officials said they'd prepare to reopen Friday morning. In St. Louis, more than 320 flights at Lambert Airport were canceled, and traffic throughout the state was snarled by hundreds of accidents.

Northern Oklahoma saw between 10 and 13
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