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Blizzard conditions, from Kansas to Wisconsin, close schools (+video)

The first major snowstorm of the season shuttered schools in Missouri, and cut power to 30,000 people in Iowa. Chicago, Milwaukee, and Michigan are expecting as much as a foot of snow Thursday.

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By Wednesday night, snow had blanketed parts of Iowa and Nebraska as the storm moved out of eastern Colorado and across parts of Kansas. Several states were reporting numerous traffic accidents, including one fatality in Nebraska.

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"There are a few truckers stranded here. And we have some semis that have rolled over and we have some that have jackknifed," said Ashley Brozek, a clerk at the Eagle Travel Center in the western Kansas town of Tribune. "We also have a UPS driver that is stranded and a local family has let him in for the night."

In Madrid, about 30 miles north of Des Moines, auto repair shop owner Steve Simmons said he had a busy Wednesday morning with customers looking for snow tires ahead of the storm.

"Everybody seems to wait to the last minute for this kind of thing," he said. And he was also expecting a busy Thursday snowplowing several churches and private businesses.

"The bad weather usually benefits me greatly," he said.

Meteorologist Kris Sanders explained "it's a pretty strong system that is coming out of the Rockies," where the storm dumped a foot of snow — a gift for ski resorts in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah ahead of the busy holiday week — before moving east.

The moisture was being welcomed by farmers in the drought-parched region, but Sanders said the storm wouldn't make much of a dent. In Kansas, for example, some areas are more than 12 inches below normal precipitation for the year.

"It's not going to have a big effect, maybe only a half-inch of liquid precipitation. It's not helping us out much," the meteorologist said.

Sanders said another storm similar to the current one could bring additional snow on Christmas or the day after.

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John Milburn reported from Topeka, Kan. Associated Press writers Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Mo.; Colleen Slevin in Denver; and Erin Gartner in Chicago also contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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