Two Dead After Second Winter Storm in Days Blasts Central U.S.S

Another blizzard just touched down in the U.S., hitting the nation's midsection early this morning. After hurricane-force winds whipped through the Texas panhandle, the storm moved to Oklahoma and Kansas, cutting off power to thousands and closing highways. It's already claimed two lives: a 21-year-old man whose SUV hit an icy part of the road, and a bystander killed after 15 inches of snow caved in part of a roof.

Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James has declared a state of emergency. Regional schools and government offices have been closed and Mayor Sly James is urging residents to stay home if possible.

Forecasters predict about 15 inches of snowfall, with a foot or more in Kansas City alone. Gusts of wind over 75 MPH have been recorded in Texas, stranding motorists. The storm has also put six counties in Arkansas and all parishes in Louisiana under a tornado watch through Monday night.

Perhaps knowing his fellow Missourians' impatience with winter weather, assistant Kansas City public works director Greg Bolon has asked residents to be patient with plow drivers, even if they might shovel road snow onto newly cleared driveways: "When people come out and shake their fists at you, it probably bothers you more mentally because you're doing what you're supposed to do."

There is a small silver lining: this storm, along with one last week, is alleviating drought conditions that pained Midwestern farmers this past summer, which could be particularly nourishing to a winter wheat crop planted this fall. But no counting wheat or chaff before it hatches, says National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Umscheid: "If we get one more storm like this with widespread 2 inches of moisture, we will continue to chip away at the drought, but to claim the drought is over or ending is way too premature." Another? Doubt that the fist-shakers will be able to hold off for that one.

[NPR, mage via AP]