Huge Midwest winter storm living up to hype

CHICAGO — A winter weather colossus roared into the nation's heartland Tuesday, laying down a paralyzing punch of dangerous ice and whiteout snow that served notice from Texas to Maine that the storm billed as the worst in decades was living up to the hype so far.

Ice-covered streets were deserted in Super Bowl host city Dallas. Whiteouts shut down Oklahoma City and Tulsa. And more was on the way. Chicago expected 2 feet of snow, Indianapolis an inch of ice, and the Northeast still more ice and snow in what's shaping up to be a record winter for the region.

The system that stretched more than 2,000 miles across a third of the country promised to leave in its aftermath a chilly cloak of teeth-chattering cold, with temperatures in the single digits or lower.

Winds topped 60 mph in Texas. The newspaper in Tulsa canceled its print edition for the first time in more than a century. In Chicago, public schools called a snow day for the first time in 12 years, and both major airports gave up on flying until at least this afternoon.

Both of Oklahoma's major airports were closed. Outside Tulsa, at the Hard Rock Casino, the snow caused the partial collapse of a roof, but no injuries were reported.

The high winds also had Chicago officials contemplating steps they haven't taken in years — starting with closing the city's busy and iconic Lake Shore Drive because of the threat that high winds could produce 25-foot waves in nearby Lake Michigan.

Everyone "should brace for a storm that will be remembered for a long time," said Jose Santiago, executive director of the city's office of emergency management.

Many cities began shutting down hours ahead of the snow. Scores of schools, colleges and government offices canceled activities or decided not to open at all. Large sections of busy Midwest interstates were closed, and 9,000 flights had been canceled across the nation.

Many people heeded advice to stay home. Thousands of office workers in downtown Chicago left early to avoid any transit troubles.

In Missouri, more than a foot of snow had fallen by midday.

The storm was so bad in Polk County, north of Springfield, that emergency officials requested help from the National Guard.