Storm hits Okla., Ark., then sets sights on Deep South

OKLAHOMA CITY — Another powerful blizzard howled through the nation's midsection Wednesday, piling up to 2 feet of new snow on parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas still struggling to clean up from last week's storm.

The blowing snow brought traffic to a halt, and the National Guard was summoned to rescue stranded motorists. Subzero wind chills forced ranchers to work desperately to protect their herds.

As the storm barreled out of the Plains, it took aim at the Deep South, which was expected to get up to 5 inches of snow. At least two traffic deaths were blamed on the system.

About 200 truck drivers sought shelter at a truck stop at I-44 and U.S. 69, about 60 miles northeast of Tulsa.

"We have a 20-acre parking lot," said owner Katrina Franks.

The heaviest snow was concentrated in the northeast corner of the state, where the towns of Colcord and Spavinaw got 22 and 23 inches, respectively. The deepest snow was reported near the village of Jay, with 25 inches.

The snow was worse across the state line in hilly northwestern Arkansas, where nearly every community reported a foot or more of snow.

"It kills business, but looks fantastic," said Rob Cork, who runs a tea room with his wife in Siloam Springs. Cork's area got 18 inches. Twenty inches fell in nearby Gentry.

Arkansas highway authorities said the storm left all the state's major highways either packed with snow or covered with slush and a seven-mile stretch of I-40 was closed late Wednesday in the eastern part of the state due to multiple accidents.

As the storm moved toward the South, forecasts called for up to 5 inches of snow in northwest Mississippi and an inch or less around Atlanta — enough to snarl traffic in a region with few salt trucks and plowing equipment. Winter storm warnings were issued for an area stretching from northern Louisiana to Georgia.