Midwest Hampered with Snow, Freezing Temps

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A monster blizzard covering one-third of the country on Tuesday has closed schools, airports, and roads from the Midwest to New England.

Ice, snow, wind and freezing temperatures have made the conditions even more miserable.

The storm stretched more than 2,000 miles and afffected more than 100 million Americans from Texas to Maine.

"It is rare you see something this big over so many states with these conditions simultaneously," said Craig Fugate, administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Wild winds whipping the snow made plowing almost impossible. In Peru, Ind., the snow blew right back on the roads after plows cleared it. Still, the city's not giving up.

"We have our trucks running 12-hour shifts, 24-hours a day, until this blizzard subsides," Mayor Jim Walker said.

The high winds plus the heavy weight of ice also doomed many power lines.

"A half inch of ice on a span of primary wire can add about a thousand pounds to it," said Brandon Moore, Xstreme Power foreman.

"That, accompanied with the winds that they're predicting, with wind gusts up to 35 to 40 mile an hour range, will cause problems," said Mike Holtsclaw, delivery director for Indianapolis Power & Light Co.

Chicago, which prides itself on never backing down from nasty weather, has closed schools for the first time in 12 years, and equipped firefighters with snowmobiles to get through snow-choked streets.

"If it's a narrow street or they're a distance down a narrow street, the rigs will never be able to get there," Chicago firefighter Grant Raymond said.

Even veteran truck drivers warned the killer combo of ice, wind and white-out conditions makes staying off what roads are still open the smart choice.

"We're only running about 30-35 miles an hour, taking our time, trying to be careful," truck driver Royce Speedy said.

"A lot of wind, ice, snow, blowing snow," said Hamz Mulder, another truck driver. "You don't want to drive too fast."

"My car got stuck four times already," driver Rena Bradley said. "It had to be pushed."

However, some people refuse to hunker down.

"Everybody's diving under the blankets," Illinois resident Dominick Romozzi said. "But I just didn't want to stay at home."

The storm's effects could be long-lasting as it has the potential to kill off cattle herds and the Midwest's winter wheat crop.

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