DES MOINES, Iowa With a month to go before the official start of spring, people living in the Midwest were braced Friday for the same kind of hard-hitting, jarring blizzard that struck states from Kansas to Illinois, dumping up to 17 inches of snows and causing accidents, flight interruptions and hazardous driving.

Wind gusts of 30 mph were expected to churn-up snow that fell overnight in southern Wisconsin, where forecasters warned Milwaukee-area residents of slick roads and reduced visibility. The same was expected in northeast Iowa, where residents could wake up to as much as 7 inches of new snow, while nearly 200 snowplows were deployed overnight in Chicago.

The storm system swirled to the north and east late Thursday, carrying with it snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Northern Oklahoma saw more than 13 inches, while Missouri s biggest snow total was 10 inches, shared by the Kansas City metropolitan area. But in Kansas, 17 inches of snow fell in Hays and nearly the same amounts in a handful of other cities. Farther east in Topeka, 3 inches of snow fell in only 30 minutes, leaving medical center worker Jennifer Carlock to dread the drive home.

It came on fast, Carlock said as she shoveled around her car late Thursday. We re going to test out traction control on the way home.

Numerous accidents and two deaths were being blamed on the icy, slushy roadways.

State legislatures shut down in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Iowa. Most schools were closed in Kansas and Missouri, and many in neighboring states.

That included the University of Missouri, where classes were canceled for one of the few times in its 174-year history.
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