Paralyzing Blizzard Lives Up To The Hype Wednesday was a snow day for tens of millions of people from the Great Plains to the Northeast. A colossal winter storm has left a thick coating of ice and deep, deep snow from Texas to Maine, closing roads, highways and airports; stranding travelers across the country; and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.
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Paralyzing Blizzard Lives Up To The Hype

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Paralyzing Blizzard Lives Up To The Hype

Paralyzing Blizzard Lives Up To The Hype

Paralyzing Blizzard Lives Up To The Hype

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Wednesday was a snow day for tens of millions of people from the Great Plains to the Northeast. A colossal winter storm has left a thick coating of ice and deep, deep snow from Texas to Maine, closing roads, highways and airports; stranding travelers across the country; and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

NORRIS: NPR's David Schaper reports from Chicago.

DAVID SCHAPER: In many parts of the nation's midsection where snowstorms often fail to live up to forecasters' hype, this one did. The blizzard of 2011 will go down as one of the biggest ever.

MEL OLSEN: It feels like "The Twilight Zone" because no one is driving. If you look on the sidewalks, no one has been walking.

SCHAPER: There are record or near-record snowfall totals in parts of Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana and Michigan. In upstate New York, plow drivers are running out of places to put the snow. National Weather Service deputy director Laura Furgione says the historic winter storm covered more than 2,000 miles and 30 states.

LAURA FURGIONE: We have 122 weather forecast offices across the U.S., and over 50 of our weather forecast offices had warnings out on this event. In fact, at one point in time, we had blizzard warnings stretching from Oklahoma City to Detroit.

SCHAPER: Interstate 70 between Kansas City and St. Louis was closed overnight and into today, as was Interstate 44 from Springfield, Missouri, into Oklahoma. Drivers were stranded in whiteout conditions for hours on several Midwestern highways, including Interstate 94 between Milwaukee and Chicago, and along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago, where as many as 900 cars got stuck. Steve Petrovich(ph) was stranded there for nearly 12 hours and says he got very little help.

STEVE PETROVICH: They didn't say anything. The cops weren't out, and no one was out, except a lone cop around 10 o'clock. And then, they started showing up around 2 o'clock.

SCHAPER: Chicago officials insist they did not make a mistake by not closing Lakeshore Drive earlier, saying a quick series of crashes in the late afternoon rush brought traffic to a standstill and then many drivers got snowed in, unable to move. South of the heavy snowfall, the big problem is...

DOUG SMITH: Ice.

SCHAPER: Doug Smith lives in Canton, Ohio.

SMITH: I woke up, and I was like ice, everywhere. And I'm walking in it, so the safest place right now is actually walking on the street. I couldn't walk on the sidewalk. I already fell once.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SCHAPER: David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.

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