Major Storm Blankets Plains States

fromKCUR

A massive storm closed more than 200 miles of highway and grounded hundreds of flights. Kansas City suffered one of the worst storms in its history.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

A lot of kids have the day off from school today, thanks to a huge winter storm in the Midwest. A foot of snow fell on Kansas City, one of the worst storms in the city's history. That city declared a state of emergency, as did several others in the region. Frank Morris, of member station KCUR, reports.

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: The storm hit hard right before morning rush hour with wind, muffled thunder and lightning diffused through a sky that seemed almost saturated with snow. By midmorning, thick, white streaks ensnared hundreds of vehicles.

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MORRIS: In parts of Kansas City, stuck cars, trucks and buses rendered the streets impassable to snowplows.

SETH JONES: Oh, man, it's rough out here.

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MORRIS: Seth Jones had to step down from his big, orange dump truck - with a huge blade out front - to push cars by hand.

JONES: 'Cause I can't get through - 'cause a bus in the way, because cars in the way.

MORRIS: The storm triggered dozens and dozens of accidents in Iowa and Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri; and shut down a 200-mile stretch of I-70. School districts across the Plains called off classes. All kinds of companies, stores and restaurants closed up, too. Jimmy Jackson leaned into the wind, plodding up a street littered with vehicles, the smell of burning clutches in the air. Jackson had started his futile commute two hours earlier.

JIMMY JACKSON: I went to work. They - was closed, so I'm on my way back to the house now. I was gonna ride the bus, but the buses can't make it nowhere, neither.

MORRIS: The storm rendered airplanes even more useless than buses. Airports canceled more than 500 commercial flights in Kansas City and St. Louis alone. But not everyone was suffering.

ERIC NEAL: Liars. (LAUGHTER)

MORRIS: Eric Neal(ph) runs a dairy farm south of Kansas City.

NEAL: Yeah. I'm pretty happy about this. You know, it's a booger to work in; it sure is.

MORRIS: No snow day for Neal. It's his busiest time of year, with 80 calves due to be born this week. A foot of snow doesn't make that work any easier, but for Neal, it sure beats the drought that baked his pastures last summer.

NEAL: I mean, I couldn't grow anything. There was nothing there. And now, I got all this snow that's gonna melt and make some really tasty grass next year.

MORRIS: That's taking the long view. For now, the Plains are seriously socked in. The snow kept coming last night, and more is in the forecast. For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris in Kansas City.

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