Miles Of Deep Snow Left In Masssive Blizzard's Wake A winter storm that stretched from the Rockies to New England has moved out to sea. Cities such as Chicago will have to dig out from more than 20 inches of snow.

Miles Of Deep Snow Left In Masssive Blizzard's Wake

Miles Of Deep Snow Left In Masssive Blizzard's Wake

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A winter storm that stretched from the Rockies to New England has moved out to sea. Cities such as Chicago will have to dig out from more than 20 inches of snow.


It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Let's plow our way now through the news of the big snow of 2011. Heavy snow and sleet poured down on a vast region from Texas to Maine. Frozen cars were abandoned - thousands of flights canceled. Millions of children kept from school. NPR's Tovia Smith is in Boston, which means she's felt the full brunt of this blizzard.

Good morning, Tovia.

TOVIA SMITH: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Let's start just briefly with where you are. Describe what Boston has been through.

SMITH: Well, it's all about cleaning up and digging out - or I really should say chipping out from the ice here - and propping back up power lines that've come down because of the heavy ice. The cold, really extreme cold, makes this work very, very uncomfortable and difficult.

And the big danger here is roofs. It's not even so much the roads that were kind of well-prepared for. But roofs that were covered with snow, that is acting like a big, giant sponge, has soaked up the rain and there have been collapses.

An official called it a rash of collapses around the region, buildings just giving in to the weight of what's come down. And there's a federal urban search and rescue team that was put on standby yesterday. There is a lot of fear that remains. Buildings came down overnight. And a well-founded fear, officials say. We've probably not seen the last of it.

MONTAGNE: And I story that's been told in areas and cities and small towns across this whole area, the amazing thing about this snow is its reach. Tell us about other parts of the country.

SMITH: Right. We've heard this storm called historic, a monster, a super storm. It was not just hype in this case. It really was intense, both because of how broad it was and how severe. It hit about two-thirds of the country, about 30 states, from Texas and Oklahoma and Missouri and Indiana and Ohio, all the way up through New England. About a dozen of those states got more than a foot of snow.

And it was - the Midwest got really clobbered with 20 inches. Chicago's public schools closed for the first time in a decade - more than a decade. And rescue crews even yesterday were still digging out drivers who were stuck for 12 hours and more overnight on Lake Shore Drive, which is the major thoroughfare there. That was completely choked off by accidents and spinouts.

The punishment continues in many places today. For example, Texas and Alabama have record below-freezing, even life threatening temperatures and more icing and precipitation.

MONTAGNE: Now, when it comes to something as sort of basic as school, what is it across these many states? Schools out for kids?

SMITH: School is out. Many have used up their snow days that we kind of build into the schedule around here. Now administrators are facing hard decisions, either taking back spring break or pushing school into summer vacation. I tell you, even kids who are usually thrilled to hear the word snow day have now kind of had enough.

MONTAGNE: Well, this is not just one unusual storm but a very unusual season so far. Are we on pace to break records?

SMITH: Well, yeah, it depends a little bit on how you play the numbers. Most snow for one storm, one day, for the month. Oklahoma broke records. I think Chicago was just two inches shy of an all-time record for one storm.

I can tell you that here in Boston where this has been like a weekly event, we're at about 70 inches total for the season. And the record for a whole winter is 102 inches. So at the rate we're going it seems well within reach. As a matter of fact, they're saying that more snow is coming Saturday, so it may not be long at all.

MONTAGNE: Well, stay warm, Tovia.

SMITH: Thank you, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Tovia Smith speaking from Boston.�

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