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Snow keeps piling up in parts of Midwest

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, 9:54 p.m.
 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the second time in a week, a major winter storm paralyzed parts of the nation's midsection on Tuesday, dumping a fresh layer of heavy, wet snow atop cities still choked with piles from the previous system and making travel perilous from the Oklahoma panhandle to the Great Lakes.

The weight of the snow strained power lines and cut electricity to more than 100,000 homes and businesses. At least three deaths were blamed on the blizzard.

The Missouri Department of Transportation issued a rare “no travel” advisory, urging people to stay off highways except in case of a dire emergency. Conditions were so bad that some snowplows slid into ditches, underlining the danger even to well-equipped travelers.

“It's straight hell. It's snowing, blowing, drifting, everything,” said Robert Branscecum, a trucker from Campton, Ill., who was hauling Wal-Mart merchandise to Dallas. He had been stranded since Monday evening at Beto Junction, about 80 miles southwest of Kansas City.

“The cars are stuck in the parking lot. Some of the trucks that tried to leave got stuck,” he said. “I'm not leaving anytime soon.”

Up to 10 inches had fallen in and around Kansas City, Mo., by the time the snow tapered off before midday. Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency.

For a second consecutive week, schoolchildren, government workers and others caught a break as most schools and office buildings were closed. Hospitals closed outpatient centers and urgent-care clinics.

Although the amount of snow was not unusual for late February, the snow was so heavy it stressed everything it fell on, especially the electrical grid. Power was slowly being restored as the thick clouds moved on.

In the northwest Oklahoma town of Woodward, a person was killed after 15 inches of snow brought down part of a roof. The storm was also blamed for the deaths of two people who were killed in rollover crashes Monday on Interstate 70 in Kansas.

Heavy snow pulled down large trees and caused roofs to cave in at businesses in Belton and Warrensburg, Mo., where 13 inches of snow piled up. In Columbia, a canopy over gas pumps collapsed at a convenience store.

By noon, the storm had arrived in the Great Lakes with a mixture of blowing snow, sleet and frigid rain that disrupted most forms of travel. Airlines canceled almost 500 flights at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports alone.

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