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Blizzard warnings: Cars stranded, power out in central US

Earlier, blizzard warnings extended from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles into south-central Kansas. The blizzard warnings have been dropped for the far western panhandles.

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While the wintry precipitation is "a shot in the arm," National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Mark Svoboda said, the drought in the Plains and Midwest is far from over. Svoboda, speaking from Lincoln, Neb., said 12 inches of snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain.

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"We would need 2 to 4 feet of snow to just erase the October to present deficits," in Kansas, he said.

Jim Shroyer, a wheat specialist with Kansas State University Extension, said snow is more efficient than summer rain in replenishing soil moistures because rain tends to run off or evaporate during the summer months.

But it can take months or years for pastures and rangeland to recover to the point where there is good forage there for livestock.

"There is a lag coming out of drought where some of these impacts will linger on long after 'climatological drought' is gone," Svoboda said. "And there is always a sense of false security there."

Texas rancher Jay O'Brien warned the storm could be deadly for grazing cattle, with the wind pushing animals into a fenced corner where they could suffocate from the drifts.

"This type of snow is a cattle-killer," he said.

Parts of Kansas are bracing for anywhere from 8 to 24 inches of snow as the system moves through the state overnight. Wichita figures to take another hit after last week's storm that dumped about a foot and a half of snow.

In preparation, many Kansas school districts already have called off Tuesday classes, as has the University of Missouri-Columbia. And Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James declared a state of emergency Monday, as another foot or more could fall, adding to last week's 10 or so inches.

"This one has the potential to be quite serious," James said at a news conference.

Through the day Tuesday, the storm is forecast to spin toward the upper Midwest, bringing snow to Chicago and eventually Detroit before heading toward Buffalo, N.Y., and northern New England in the middle of the week.

Snow totals reported so far:

TEXAS

Amarillo 19 inches (wind gust to 75 m.p.h.) – the second-highest amount recorded in a single day, behind the 19.3 inches that fell March 25, 1934.

Fritch 16

Pampa 15 (wind gust to 55 m.p.h.)

Booker 14

Wheeler 14

Briscoe 12

Canyon 11.3 (wind gust to 58 m.p.h.)

Hereford 11

OKLAHOMA

Woodward 15

Shattuck 11

Alva 9

Arnett 8

Watonga 6

Turpin 6

Guymon 4.5

KANSAS

Kingman 5.5

Meade 5.5

Trousdale 5

Greensburg 4.5

Coldwater 4

Associated Press writers Jill Zeman Bleed and Kelly P. Kissel in Little Rock, Ark.; Daniel Holtmeyer in Oklahoma City; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kan.; Bill Draper in Kansas City, Mo.; and John Milburn in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.

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