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Another powerful winter storm targets midwestern US (+video)

A large winter storm is tracking across the Great Plains Thursday. It has been cited in one road fatality in Oklahoma overnight.

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Tim Chojnacki, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said it planned to have salt trucks on the roads before the storm arrived in the Show-Me State in hopes that the precipitation would largely melt upon impact.

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Much of Kansas was expected to get up to a foot of snow, which many rural residents welcomed after nearly a year of drought.

Jerry and Diane McReynolds spent part of Wednesday putting out more hay and straw for newborn calves at their farm near Woodston in north central Kansas. The storm made extra work, but Diane McReynolds said it would help their winter wheat, pastures and dried-up ponds.

"In the city you hear they don't want the snow and that sort of thing, and I am thinking, 'Yes, we do,' and they don't realize that we need it," she said. "We have to have it or their food cost in the grocery store is going to go very high. We have to have this. We pray a lot for it."

Meanwhile, a separate snow storm caught many drivers by surprise in California, leaving hundreds stranded on mountain highways. A 35-mile stretch of Highway 58 between Mojave and Bakersfield was closed Wednesday, and several school districts closed. No injuries were reported.

Schools also were closed in northern Arizona and Colorado with snow there. Mindy Crane, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said hundreds of plows had been deployed for what was expected to be one of the most significant snow storms of the season.

Just the threat of snow led to a series of shutdowns in the middle of the country. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback closed state government from Thursday morning through Friday morning and urged residents to stay off the roads.

Lawmakers in Nebraska and Iowa cancelled committee meetings and hearings, and the Arkansas Senate voted to recess until Monday so lawmakers could make it home before the worst of the storm hit. University of Nebraska officials moved a Big Ten men's basketball game against Iowa from Thursday to Saturday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jayson Gosselin said precipitation is generally expected to drop off as the storm makes its way east. Chicago and parts of Indiana, he said, could get about 2 inches of snow and some sleet.

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