Parts of the nation’s heartland awoke today  to more than half a foot of snow, as a large storm made its way eastward out of  the Rockies, snarling traffic for morning commuters and allowing an army of  children to trade pen and paper for shovel and sled, at least for a  day.

Winter storm warnings were issued from  Colorado through Illinois, and many school districts cancelled classes ahead of  time, in anticipation of the more than a foot of snow expected to fall in some  places.

Kelly Sugden, a National Weather Service  meteorologist in Dodge City, Kansas, said early today that the storm that had  already dumped heavy snow on Colorado and western Kansas on Wednesday was moving  a bit slower than first expected, but was ‘starting to get back  together.’

‘It’s very active,’ Sugden said, noting the  snowfall was mixed with lightning and sleet showers.

Kansas’ capital, Topeka, had little more than  a dusting of snow after dawn, but in the town of Rozel, roughly 210 miles west,  6 1/2 inches had already reported fallen.

Sugden said that while forecasters weren’t  expecting blizzard conditions to develop in Kansas, the Interstate 70 corridor  could get as much as 13 inches of snow, and large drifts would make driving very  dangerous.

Both Missouri and Kansas have declared states  of emergency in response to the storm.

In Oklahoma on Wednesday, roads were covered  with a slushy mix of snow and ice that officials said caused a crash that killed  an 18-year-old driver, Cody Alexander.

Alexander, of Alex, Oklahoma, skidded in his  pickup truck into oncoming traffic on State Highway 19 and was hit by a truck  and killed, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said.

The other driver wasn’t seriously  injured.

In northern Arkansas, a school bus crashed  Wednesday on a steep, snowy country road, leaving three students and the driver  with minor injuries.

Pope County Sheriff Aaron Duval said the bus  slid off a road on Crow Mountain, nearly flipping before it was stopped by trees  at the roadside.

The weather service warned that freezing rain  could lead to a half-inch or more of ice accumulating today in central and  northern Arkansas, making travelling particularly dangerous. Officials said  the storm could be the Midwest’s worst since a two-day storm that began February  1, 2011.

That storm was blamed for about two dozen  deaths and left hundreds of thousands without power, some for several days.

At its peak, the storm created white-out  conditions so intense that Interstate 70 was shut down across the entire state  of Missouri.

Tim Chojnacki, spokesman for the Missouri  Department of Transportation, said it planned to have salt trucks on the roads  before the storm arrived in the Show-Me State in hopes that the precipitation  would largely melt upon impact.

Much of Kansas was expected to get up to a  foot of snow, which many rural residents welcomed after nearly a year of  drought.

Jerry and Diane McReynolds spent part of  Wednesday putting out more hay and straw for newborn calves at their farm near  Woodston in north central Kansas.

The storm made extra work, but Diane  McReynolds said it would help their winter wheat, pastures and dried-up  ponds.

‘In the city you hear they don’t want the  snow and that sort of thing, and I am thinking, ‘Yes, we do,’ and they don’t  realize that we need it,’ she said.

‘We have to have it or their food cost in the  grocery store is going to go very high. We have to have this. We pray a lot for  it.’


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